Manafort talking plea deal with prosecutors: report

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortTrump has publicly criticized Russia probe more than 1,100 times: NY Times Judge orders Stone to appear in court after he shared photo of her with crosshairs Roger Stone shares, quickly deletes Instagram photo of federal judge on his case MORE is in talks with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s office regarding a possible plea deal, two sources tell The Washington Post.

The report comes days before jury selection is set to begin for Manafort’s second trial.

ADVERTISEMENT

He faces seven charges, including illegal foreign lobbying on behalf of a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine and conspiracy to launder money.

The specifics of the conversations with the special counsel's office, including if Manafort would provide damaging information on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE, are still unclear. 

Should the discussions produce a plea deal, they would mark a stark departure from Manafort’s past strategy of defiance toward the Mueller probe.

Rather than taking a plea deal in a case involving charges of bank and tax fraud, Manafort fought the charges in a trial in Virginia but was found guilty on eight counts. He is facing up to 10 years in prison. 

He also slammed his former business partner Richard Gates for cooperating with the Mueller team in exchange for leniency in his own case.

“I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence,” Manafort said in February.

Trump offered praise for Manafort after he was convicted in the Virginia trial.

“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. ‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and ... he refused to ‘break’ — make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!” he tweeted.

Manafort attended the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer who promised dirt on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders campaign reports raising M in less than a day The Memo: Bernie Sanders’s WH launch sharpens ‘socialist’ question Roger Stone invokes gag order in new fundraiser MORE.

The news of a potential plea deal could reignite speculation that Trump may pardon his former campaign chairman to prevent him from cooperating with the special counsel, although the president's personal attorneys have already advised against such a move.

Jury selection is scheduled to start on Monday for Manafort’s trial in Washington, D.C. Opening statements are slated for Sept. 24.