Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Paul Manafort has reached a tentative plea deal with Mueller

Paul Manafort has reached a tentative plea deal with Mueller

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

Spokesmen for special counsel Mueller and Manafort would not respond to requests for comment.

The prosecutions of Manafort arose from Mueller's investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 USA election and whether Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow to help him win.

Notes from former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on a meeting he attended previous year with a Russian lobbyist and Donald Trump Jr. are not seen as damaging to the Trump family or campaign officials, according to government officials and others who have looked at the notes...

Jackson's ruling clears the way for Manafort to be tried later this month on several felony charges related to his lobbying and political consulting work on behalf of Ukrainian political interests.

Indications have mounted throughout this week that a plea deal was in the works.

Manafort's cooperation could be significant.

She has been a constant presence at her husband's court hearings and attended every day of testimony at Manafort's trial last month in Virginia. Opening statements for trial number two are still scheduled (until we learn officially that there won't be a trial) for September 24. His former business partner, Richard Gates, has pleaded guilty and cooperated in Mueller's probe, testifying against him in the first trial.

Following Manafort's conviction in Virginia, Trump said he felt "very badly" for Manafort and praised him for refusing to become a cooperating witness for the government like the president's former legal fixer, Michael Cohen, who separately pleaded guilty in NY to tax fraud, bank fraud and a campaign finance violation. Trump has not said whether or not he would pardon Manafort, but he has not publicly ruled it out.

"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.

"If the government agrees to a plea deal without cooperation now, they save nothing in terms of time, money, or resources", said Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor who was part of the team that convicted the Gambino family boss John Gotti.

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