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15 September 2018, 09:38 | Devin Moran
REPORT: Manafort Wants "No Cooperation" Plea Deal
Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, is close to reaching a plea deal with prosecutors to avoid a second trial on further criminal charges, according to reports. Manafort's legal team has been meeting with prosecutors from the special counsel's office to negotiate a plea deal.
It was not immediately clear if the deal includes a cooperation component or if Manafort is simply agreeing to plead guilty in order to avoid his trial in Washington, D.C.
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.
The discussions between Team Manafort and Team Mueller reportedly went on for more than fourhours on Thursday.
Manafort faces a second trial on charges he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukraine, conspired to launder money and tampered with witnesses. 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.
The trial would be the second for Manafort stemming from Mueller's sprawling investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
"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", Giuliani told Politico.
ABC News reported Wednesday that Manafort was seeking to avoid a deal that would involve him cooperating with government prosecutors in the Russian Federation investigation.
Trump praised Manafort last month for not entering into a plea agreement, as the president's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen had. A prosecutor who secured convictions against him in Virginia and works with the US Attorney's Office there - not the special counsel's office - was also there Thursday, meaning that others outside his DC trial are still working on the case.
A pretrial conference scheduled for Friday morning, rescheduled late Thursday night. Trump has not said whether or not he would pardon Manafort, but he has not publicly ruled it out. His onetime business partner and protégé, Rick Gates, made such a deal and appeared as the government's star witness against Manafort in his Virginia trial last month.
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