Paul Manafort close to plea deal to avoid second federal trial

REPORT: Manafort Wants

Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing and Mueller spokesman Peter Carr declined to comment on the ABC report.

He already faced a possible sentence of life behind bars before the second trial began in Washington, D.C.

Manafort already is facing prison time, having been convicted of eight felony financial-fraud charges earlier this summer in Alexandria, Virginia.

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

Paul Manafort worked for five months on Trump's 2016 campaign, including three as chairman.

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.

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"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", he added. Jury selection for his second trial is now set to begin on Monday, and opening arguments are scheduled for September 24.

Rick Gates, Manafort's former business partner and the campaign's deputy chairman, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for his cooperation, later testifying against Manafort in Virginia.

Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal defense attorney, said Thursday that he is not anxious about Manafort cutting a plea deal because Trump's team is convinced he won't say anything damaging about the president.

Giuliani added that Manafort striking a plea deal would not shut the door to him getting a presidential pardon, and that Manafort's and Trump's teams have been in regular contact as part of a joint defense agreement, which allows the two sides to share evidence and other information.

Manafort's attorneys had argued that the trial should be moved to Roanoke, Virginia, because the intensity of publicity in Washington made it impossible for him to receive a fair trial.

In the Virginia trial, prosecutors said Manafort hid from United States tax authorities $16 million he earned as a political consultant in Ukraine to fund an opulent lifestyle that included purchasing multimillion-dollar properties, an ostrich skin jacket and other valuables.

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