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Paul Manafort Reaches Tentative Plea Deal With Robert Mueller's Team

Paul Manafort Reaches Tentative Plea Deal With Robert Mueller's Team

President Trump's ex-campaign chair Paul Manafort tentatively agreed to a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller that will head off his upcoming second trial, ABC News reported Thursday.

ABC News reported on Thursday evening that Manafort was likely to enter a guilty plea in court on Friday, bringing an end to several weeks of negotiations between his lawyers and Mueller's team.

Regarding the Washington case, Manafort is accused of acting as an unregistered foreign agent, conspiring to launder money, and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department about the nature of his work. Another trial was to begin later this month based on charges filed against Manafort a year ago in Washington, DC.

Mueller is investigating Russia's role in the 2016 USA election and whether Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow to help him win.

Four former Trump aides have pleaded guilty to charges related to the special counsel investigation: Michael Cohen, the president's longtime personal lawyer; Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser; Rick Gates, the former deputy campaign chairman; and George Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser. Prosecutors said he evaded taxes on $16 million laundered through shell companies overseas. If Manafort is getting a deal, that means Mueller is getting something in return.

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Manafort worked for five months on Trump's 2016 campaign, including three as chairman. "Such respect for a courageous man!" Trump's critics have pointed to the meeting as evidence of the collusion with Russian Federation that Trump denies. The jury said they were hung on 10 other charges.

Since Manafort's guilty verdict in August, speculation has mounted that Trump could pardon him. Opening statements for trial number two are still scheduled (until we learn officially that there won't be a trial) for September 24.

Manafort's second trial is expected to delve deeper into Manafort's Russian connections including to Konstantin Kilimnik, a Ukrainian-Russian political consultant who was indicted along with Manafort and who Mueller's team has linked to Russian intelligence.

Prosecutors have said Manafort and Kilimnik conspired to tamper with witnesses, an allegation that later led in June to U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Columbia Amy Berman Jackson revoking Manafort's bail and ordering him jailed.