World Media

Donald Trump aide Paul Manafort close to plea deal with Robert Mueller

Donald Trump aide Paul Manafort close to plea deal with Robert Mueller

U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is nearing a plea deal with U.S. prosecutors to avoid a second criminal trial, sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Sources close to ABC News reported the deal is soon going to be announced, although, it has not been revealed whether Manafort has agreed to co-operate with the special counsel's investigation or if it is only a guilty plea.

Juy selection in Manafort's trial in the District of Columbia is scheduled to begin on September 17 but opening statements are due to start a week later.

ABC reached out to a spokesperson for Manafort and a representative for the special counsel's office.

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The developments in plea negotiations were first reported by ABC News.

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 Russian Federation probe.

Mueller's investigation has resulted in charges against at least 32 people, including Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

The defense has been planning to show that the special counsel had targeted Mr. Manafort because he had headed Mr. Trump's presidential campaign.

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Manafort, 69, was last month convicted of eight counts in a fraud case brought by Mueller's office in Virginia.

These charges largely stem from Manafort's time working for a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine before the 2016 USA elections. A pretrial hearing, postponed this week, is scheduled for Friday.

Trump discussed with his lawyers earlier this summer a possible pardon for Manafort, Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has told NPR. One of the prosecutors, Andrew Weissman, confirmed in court that Manafort was cooperating with the government's investigation.

"I plead guilty", Manafort said. He worked for the Trump campaign for five months in 2016 and arguably had deeper contacts with pro-Russian oligarchs and intermediaries than any other campaign adviser did.

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Jackson said she would allow Downing to file additional information about his argument before issuing a ruling, but was inclined to bar such references because they weren't relevant to the charges against Manafort.


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