Manafort makes deal with Mueller to avoid another trial

Paul Manafort to plead guilty as part of plea deal with special counsel

WASHINGTON ― Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has reached a plea deal with the special counsel team led by Robert Mueller, a court filing indicated on Friday.

It comes three weeks after Paul Manafort was convicted in a separate trial on eight counts related to financial fraud, and as the Mueller investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation increasingly pressures the White House.

A Virginia jury convicted Manafort last month on bank and tax fraud charges. The president has tried to distance himself from his former campaign chair.

It's unclear which charges Manafort is pleading guilty to, and whether his deal means that he will actually cooperate with prosecutors.

Details of the deal were likely to emerge in a plea agreement hearing scheduled for 11 a.m. ET (1500 GMT) in the federal court.

The allegations do not involve his work with the Trump campaign.

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He was facing a second trial Monday on charges related to Ukrainian political consulting work, including failing to register as a foreign agent.

The jury in the Virginia trial had found Manafort guilty on eight of the counts brought by Mueller, while dead-locking on 10 others.

The president has signalled that he's sympathetic to Manafort's cause, and in comments to Politico, his attorney-spokesman Rudy Giuliani said a plea without a cooperation agreement wouldn't foreclose the possibility of a pardon. The money, the newspaper reported, came from the pro-Russian party of Viktor Yanukovych, the onetime Ukraine president. Manafort would be the fifth Trump aide to plead guilty in connection to the special counsel's probe.

Earlier this year, Manafort derided Gates, his former business partner, for striking a deal with prosecutors that provided him leniency in exchange for testimony against his former partner.

The punishment that Manafort may receive related to his D.C. case, and any cooperation he may have offered the government, weren't immediately clear.

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

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