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Paul Manafort will plead guilty, forfeit many assets in special counsel probe

Paul Manafort will plead guilty, forfeit many assets in special counsel probe

Paul Manafort is set for a status hearing Friday amid reports that President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman was nearing a plea deal to avoid trial on charges stemming from work he did for pro-Russia political forces in Ukraine.

The once-powerful Republican operative was found guilty last month of tax and bank fraud charges that could land him in prison for up to 80 years.

Another conviction would cap a dramatic fall for the global power broker and confidant of Republican presidents dating back to Ronald Reagan.

The details of the plea agreement, and whether Manafort would cooperate with prosecutors, were not immediately known. The special counsel's office also announced the scheduling of the arraignment and plea agreement hearing in the Manafort case.

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Manafort will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He had been jailed since June as a result of the witness tampering charges. Law enforcement officials have come to suspect that Manafort hopes he will be pardoned by the president, according to people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue. Trump has raised the idea of a pardon for Manafort with White House aides and others, a source told NPR. The president agreed to wait at least until the investigation concludes, Giuliani has said.

Most of the charges Mueller brought against him stemmed from that pre-2016 Ukraine work, however some of the bank fraud allegations in Virginia overlapped with Manafort's time on the campaign and after. In the D.C. case, Manafort was facing a judge less sympathetic than the judge who presided over the Virginia trial, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis. Gates may have been a prosecution witness in his Washington trial as well.

On Twitter on August 22, Trump wrote: "Unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to "break" - make up stories in order to get a 'deal".

Rick Gates, Manafort's former business partner and the campaign's deputy chairman, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for his cooperation, later testifying against Manafort in Virginia.