Court Battles

Manafort reaches ‘tentative’ plea deal with Mueller: report

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has reportedly reached a “tentative” plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller.

ABC News reported news of the tentative deal on Thursday, saying it is expected to be announced in court on Friday.

A pretrial conference is scheduled for Friday in federal court in Washington, D.C. On Thursday evening, Judge Amy Berman Jackson pushed the conference from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. No explanation was given for the delay.

ABC reported that it remains unclear whether Manafort has agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s probe or is conceding to a guilty plea. 

{mosads}Sources with knowledge of the discussions told ABC that conceding to a guilty plea would allow Manafort to avoid the expense and stress of a trial.

The special counsel’s office declined to comment to The Hill on the report of a tentative plea deal. Neither Manafort’s attorneys nor family spokesman Jason Maloni responded to requests for comment. 

The report of a tentative deal comes days before jury selection is expected to begin for Manafort’s trial in D.C., which is set to kick off with opening statements on Sept. 24.

The trial would be the second for Manafort stemming from Mueller’s sprawling investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Manafort was convicted on eight counts of tax and bank fraud in federal court in Virginia in August, a development that was widely viewed as a victory for Mueller’s team in his first court test of the Russia probe. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on 10 counts for Manafort, however. Prosecutors have yet to say whether they plan to retry him on those charges.

The former Trump associate is facing seven separate counts in D.C., including failing to register as a lobbyist for a  foreign country and bank fraud, conspiracy to launder money. The charges stem from work he did lobbying for pro-Russian forces in Ukraine, which is unrelated to his work on the Trump campaign.

Manafort served as Trump’s campaign chairman until August 2016, when he stepped down as reports emerged about the work he did for Russia-backed oligarchs in Ukraine. His former business partner, Richard Gates, has pleaded guilty and cooperated in Mueller’s probe, testifying against him in the first trial. 

Reports have circulated for a week that Manafort’s defense attorneys were in talks with Mueller’s team to reach a deal to avoid the second trial.

ABC News reported Wednesday that Manafort was seeking to avoid a deal that would involve him cooperating with government prosecutors in the Russia investigation.

Manafort’s cooperation could be significant. He was one of three Trump associates present at the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer, arranged after Donald Trump Jr. was offered damaging information on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Since Manafort’s guilty verdict in August, speculation has mounted that Trump could pardon him.

Lydia Wheeler contributed to this report, which was updated at 6:51 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Donald Trump Jr. Hillary Clinton Paul Manafort Robert Mueller

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