Paul Manafort Reaches Plea Deal With Special Counsel Robert Mueller

Former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort

Former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort

Onetime Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort indicated in a court filing on Friday that he had reached a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in which he will plead guilty to two criminal counts, allowing him to avoid a trial that had been set to begin next week.

As part of the deal, Manafort, 69, could be required to cooperate with Mueller's probe into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russian Federation in the 2016 US presidential election.

In August, in a separate trial in Virginia, a federal jury found Manafort guilty on eight counts of federal tax and banking crimes.

He faced a second trial in Washington, DC, on seven more counts related to lobbying work he did for Ukraine and witness tampering.

Manafort is expected to appear in court later Friday morning.

His DC trial was set to begin September 24.

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


This, in turn, may endear him to President Trump, who has already called Manafort a "good man" who has been unfairly targeted by the Justice Department.

Manafort had the choice to consolidate both cases into one but declined. Jurors deadlocked on 10 other counts.

It's unclear how a guilty plea might alter his ultimate sentence, and some lawyers have questioned whether he is focused on winning a reprieve elsewhere.

Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues. Trump has not said whether he would pardon Manafort, but the president has not publicly ruled it out.

Manafort's conviction in Alexandria, Virginia, last month was at a trial arising from Mueller's investigation.

Manafort's legal team blamed most of his problems on former business partner Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty this year and testified against Manafort in Virginia.

Kevin M. Downing, an attorney for Manafort, also said earlier this summer there was "no chance" his client would flip and cooperate with prosecutors. Either he has offered some form of cooperation, one source familiar with the case explained, or the government has concluded that it has hit him with a sufficient number of charges and following through with a second trial is not worth the time and expense. "Such respect for a courageous man!"

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