Paul Manafort, Robert Mueller reach tentative plea deal

Shawn Thew  EPA  REX via Shutterstock

Shawn Thew EPA REX via Shutterstock

The tentative deal was first reported on Thursday evening by ABC News. Details surrounding the agreement have yet to emerge.

The Post story also didn't have any inside information on the key question: Will Manafort agree to some sort of guilty plea simply to avoid rolling the dice at trial or does this deal involve cooperating with Mueller against Trump. Members of Manafort's legal team were spotted spending several hours at the special counsel office's Thursday. Attorneys for Manafort did not respond to requests for comment. Opening statements for trial number two are still scheduled (until we learn officially that there won't be a trial) for September 24. It was the second time Manafort was denied moving a trial away from the Washington metropolitan area.

Manafort was convicted on eight counts of tax and bank fraud in federal court in Virginia in August, a development that was widely viewed as a victory for Mueller's team in his first court test of the Russian Federation probe. Jurors deadlocked on ten other counts.

In addition to the criminal charges, prosecutors said in a court filing that Manafort could be forced to forfeit assets that would deal him a significant financial blow: four houses he owns, including an expansive retreat in the Hamptons, plus four bank accounts and the proceeds of a life insurance policy. In pretrial filings, they listed 2,127 potential exhibits.

Manafort's cooperation could be significant. Trump has not said whether he would pardon Manafort but he has not publicly ruled it out.

The report said that it was not clear yet whether the deal includes Manafort's cooperation, which ABC News previously reported was a desire of the special counsel in the negotiations.

Following last month's verdict, a juror in the case told news outlets that the jury agreed to throw out Gates' testimony because they found him unreliable.

The second indictment charged him with conspiracy, obstruction of justice, money laundering, and failure to register as a foreign agent.

Following Manafort's conviction in Virginia, Trump said he felt "very badly" for Manafort and praised him for refusing to become a cooperating witness for the government like the president's former legal fixer, Michael Cohen, who separately pleaded guilty in NY to tax fraud, bank fraud and a campaign finance violation.

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