Manafort and Mueller have reached a tentative plea deal


Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is close to reaching a plea deal that would avert a trial scheduled to start later this month in Washington, D.C.

Legal experts say that given the timeline of the trial, it's unlikely prosecutors would agree to a plea deal that doesn't involve an agreement to cooperate with the government. A plea deal on the charges would preclude the need for a trial, sparing Manafort the steep legal fees of a second round of prosecution.

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

Manafort's lawyers have been in talks with Mueller's team about a plea deal for at least the last few weeks.

Manafort was convicted on 8 of 18 charges in a separate trial in Virginia that ended last month.

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.

The special counsel Robert Mueller's team plans to introduce almost three times as much evidence in Paul Manafort's upcoming trial in Washington, DC, as it did in Manafort's first trial in Virginia.

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His former business partner, Richard Gates, has pleaded guilty and cooperated in Mueller's probe, testifying against him in the first trial.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort departs from U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., February 28, 2018.

The report of a tentative deal comes days before jury selection is expected to begin for Manafort's trial in D.C., which is set to kick off with opening statements on September 24. The jury deadlocked on 10 other counts.

A pretrial conference scheduled for Friday morning, rescheduled late Thursday night.

In Manafort's first trial, prosecutors showed the jury around 400 documents, emails, and financial records to make their case. In private discussions with his lawyers, Mr. Trump has raised the option of pardoning Mr. Manafort. Manafort could plead guilty at the hearing, one of the sources said.

A 69-year-old veteran lobbyist, Manafort joined Trump's campaign team in March 2016 and spent three months as Trump's campaign chairman until mid August 2016.