Sources say former Trump aide Manafort close to plea deal with Mueller

Paul Manafort

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The deal is expected to be announced in a Washington courtroom on Friday, but it remains unclear whether Manafort has also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, ABC said, citing three unnamed sources with knowledge of the discussions.

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

Possible outcomes include Manafort pleading guilty ahead of his second trial or cooperating with the special counsel's office.

Manafort and his top lawyers spent more than four hours Thursday in discussions with a team of Mueller's special prosecutors who are neck deep in the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the United States election and possible collusion with Trump's campaign.

In the second trial, the former Trump campaign manager is facing charges of conspiring to defraud the federal government, money laundering, and witness tampering.

In other words, there is a difference, as Law&Crime explained on Wednesday, between entering a guilty plea on all charges to avoid trial and cutting a deal to do the same.

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Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is representing Trump in the Russian Federation probe, previously told the Politico news outlet that taking a plea deal to avoid a second trial would not crush Manafort's chances of receiving an eventual presidential pardon.

"There's no fear that Paul Manafort would cooperate against the president because there's nothing to cooperate about and we long ago evaluated him as an honorable man", Giuliani told Politico.

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

Since Manafort's guilty verdict in August, speculation has mounted that Trump could pardon him.

A pretrial conference scheduled for Friday morning, rescheduled late Thursday night. But Judge Amy Berman Jackson of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia had already signaled that argument was out-of-bounds.

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.

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