Paul Manafort, prosecutors reach tentative deal to avoid second trial, sources say

Leroy Wright
September 15, 2018

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortManafort seeks plea deal without special counsel cooperation: report Investigators looking at suspicious money transfers after Trump Tower meeting, election: report Poll: More Americans favor Mueller's handling of Russian Federation probe than Trump's MORE has reportedly reached a "tentative" plea deal with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russian Federation probe MORE.

Earlier, ABC News, citing three unnamed sources with knowledge of the discussions, said Manafort had tentatively agreed to a plea deal and it was expected to be announced at a court hearing on Friday in Washington. Members of Manafort's legal team were spotted spending several hours at the special counsel office's Thursday.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Monday in Manafort's second trial in federal court in Washington on charges including conspiring to launder money, conspiring to defraud the United States, failing to register as a foreign agent and witness tampering. Another trial was to begin later this month based on charges filed against Manafort a year ago in Washington, DC.

Manafort's cooperation could be significant. Manafort faces up to a decade in federal prison for the two conspiracy charges.

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Trump praised Manafort last month for not entering into a plea agreement, as the president's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen had. Opening statements for trial number two are still scheduled (until we learn officially that there won't be a trial) for September 24. A prosecutor who secured convictions against him in Virginia and works with the US Attorney's Office there - not the special counsel's office - was also there Thursday, meaning that others outside his DC trial are still working on the case. His onetime business partner and protégé, Rick Gates, made such a deal and appeared as the government's star witness against Manafort in his Virginia trial last month.

In addition to the criminal charges, prosecutors said in a court filing that Manafort could be forced to forfeit assets that would deal him a significant financial blow: four houses he owns, including an expansive retreat in the Hamptons, plus four bank accounts and the proceeds of a life insurance policy.

"Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign", Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said Friday.

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