Paul Manafort and special counsel reach tentative plea deal

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Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has tentatively agreed to a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller that will head off his upcoming trial, ABC News reported on Thursday.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump's lead defense attorney, told Politico on Thursday that the president's legal team is not concerned about the possibility of a plea deal in Manafort's case, because they are convinced he won't say anything damaging about Trump. The second trial is due to begin on September 24.

Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing and Mueller spokesman Peter Carr declined to comment on the ABC News report. Separately, Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, implicated him in a criminal campaign finance violation during his own plea hearing in federal court last month. A second case was opened in Virginia earlier this year on related charges that ended with a jury finding Manafort guilty on eight counts out of an 18-count indictment, facing a maximum of 80 years behind the bars, though under sentencing guidelines the term is likely to be closer to seven years.

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The defence has planned to show that the special counsel had targeted Manafort because he had headed Trump's presidential campaign.

Although most of Manafort's charges predate his work for the Trump campaign, his conviction was still considered a huge victory for Mueller's Russian investigation - which Trump has exceedingly bashed and decried as a "witch hunt." "Paul Manafort is a good man", he said after the Virginia jury returned its verdict. Gates may be a prosecution witness in his Washington trial as well. In inner most discussions along with his lawyers, Mr. Trump has raised the selection of pardoning Mr. Manafort.It used to be unclear whether or no longer that likelihood has figured in Mr. Manafort's pondering. Manafort could plead guilty at the hearing, one of the sources said.

Manafort's cooperation could be significant. A Russian oligarch closely tied to President Vladimir Putin of Russia also lent Manafort $10 million that prosecutors have suggested was never repaid. He worked for the Trump campaign for five months in 2016 and arguably had deeper contacts with pro-Russian oligarchs and intermediaries than any other campaign adviser did.

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