Reports say Manafort, who was convicted on eight counts of fraud last month, likely to enter guilty plea in court on Friday
Paul Manafort, Donald Trumps 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 was said to be nearing an agreement with Robert Mueller, the special counsel, who had been preparing to prosecute him in Washington DC this month on charges including conspiracy, money laundering and witness tampering.
Manafort, 69, was last month convicted of eight counts in a fraud case brought by Muellers office in Virginia. The veteran Republican operative could be sentenced to decades in prison for those crimes.
ABC News reported on Thursday evening that Manafort was likely to enter a guilty plea in court on Friday, bringing an end to several weeks of negotiations between his lawyers and Muellers team. The next hearing in the case was rescheduled to 11am on Friday, an entry in the court docket said.
Several other news outlets later reported that Manafort was close to reaching a deal. Attorneys for Manafort did not respond to requests for comment.
It was not clear whether Manafort would agree to cooperate with Muellers inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He was previously reported to be resisting Muellers demands for information relating to Trump in return for a deal.
Before joining Trumps campaign, Manafort worked extensively for pro-Kremlin politicians and oligarchs in Ukraine. Muellers team has been investigating whether his connections in the region are linked to Russias attack on the 2016 US election. US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia worked to boost Trumps campaign.
Following Manaforts 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 presidents former legal fixer, Michael Cohen, who separately pleaded guilty in New York to tax fraud, bank fraud and a campaign finance violation.
Trumps attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, was quoted earlier on Thursday saying that the presidents team remained in open communication with Manaforts as part of an agreement to share information, renewing speculation that Trump may pardon the former aide for his crimes.
Theres no fear that Paul Manafort would cooperate against the president because theres nothing to cooperate about and we long ago evaluated him as an honorable man, Giuliani told Politico.
Manafort has been in jail for almost three months after his bail was revoked. Muellers team alleged that Manafort tried to tamper with witnesses in his case by contacting them and attempting to coordinate testimony. He was also charged with failing to register as a foreign agent.