Ex-Trump aide Manafort tentatively agrees to plea deal

On Tuesday January 31 Rudy Giuliani former mayor of New York City was present for U.S. President Donald Trump's live announcement of Colo. appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court of the United States nominee in the East Room of the

On Tuesday January 31 Rudy Giuliani former mayor of New York City was present for U.S. President Donald Trump's live announcement of Colo. appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court of the United States nominee in the East Room of the

Tuesday, there were reports that negotiations toward a possible plea deal were underway.

ABC reported that it remains unclear whether Manafort has agreed to cooperate with Mueller's probe or is conceding to a guilty plea.

Manafort's cooperation could be significant.

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

Joshua Dressler, a law professor at Ohio State University, said it made sense that Manafort, 69, was considering cutting his losses and avoiding the time and money needed to defend himself against a second trial. If Manafort is getting a deal, that means Mueller is getting something in return. "Such respect for a fearless man!"

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. He already faces about 10 years in prison after having been convicted in a separate case last month in the Eastern District of Virginia on bank and tax fraud charges. Trump has denied colluding with the Russians. At that point, Manafort would not be able to assert his 5th amendment right against self-incrimination as it relates to the two cases against him.

Four former Trump aides have pleaded guilty to charges related to the special counsel investigation: Michael Cohen, the president's longtime personal lawyer; Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser; Rick Gates, the former deputy campaign chairman; and George Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser. A pretrial hearing, postponed this week, is scheduled for Friday.

The plea agreement makes Manafort the latest member of Trump's inner circle to cooperate with the investigation that has loomed over his presidency. Trump has not said whether he would pardon Manafort but he has not publicly ruled it out. Desperate for cash, prosecutors said he lied to banks in order to secure $20 million in loans.

Manafort's second trial is expected to delve deeper into Manafort's Russian connections including to Konstantin Kilimnik, a Ukrainian-Russian political consultant who was indicted along with Manafort and who Mueller's team has linked to Russian intelligence.

In the second trial, the former Trump campaign manager is facing charges of conspiring to defraud the federal government, money laundering, and witness tampering.

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