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.
It is not clear whether any agreement with prosecutors would require him to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into possible coordination between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian Federation.
As a potential witness to alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation during the 2016 campaign, Manafort became an early and sustained focus of the Mueller probe.
Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the Federal District Court after a hearing, in Washington, DC, May 23, 2018. Jury selection was due to start on Monday.
Prosecutors with Mueller's office filed new criminal charges Friday in the case.
The court then changed Manafort's scheduled appearance later in the morning to an arraignment and plea hearing.
That posture drew plaudits from Trump, who praised his former campaign chairman for his unwillingness to cooperate with the special counsel.
The details of Manafort's plea were not immediately clear, including whether he would be providing any information to special counsel Robert Mueller as part of any deal.
Asked by reporters at the White House if he would consider a pardon if Manafort is convicted, Trump said last month: "I don't talk about that". Jurors were deadlocked on the other 10 counts.
Writing on Twitter on August 22, Trump said, "Unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to "break" - make up stories in order to get a 'deal". But Manafort has not been charged with anything related to the campaign. "Such respect for a courageous man!"
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. Manafort faces up to a decade in prison after the Virginia jury verdict, and a conviction in Washington could have increased his prison time.