Manafort can be Said to Near Plea Deal With Prosecutors
WASHINGTON — Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman along with one of Washington’s most prominent lobbyists, can be close to a plea deal with federal prosecutors to avoid a trial scheduled for next week on charges stemming through work he did for pro-Russia political forces in Ukraine, people familiar with the case said on Thursday.
Mr. Manafort has already been convicted on related bank along with tax fraud charges arising through an investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. The negotiations over a plea deal relate to a separate set of seven charges encompassing conspiracy, obstruction of justice, money laundering, false statements along with violations of a lobbying disclosure law.
in which was not clear which charges Mr. Manafort might plead guilty to or whether he would likely cooperate with Mr. Mueller’s team in its investigation into Russian interference within the 2016 election, possible collusion with the Trump campaign along with obstruction of justice by Mr. Trump. The developments in plea negotiations were first reported by ABC News.
Mr. Manafort’s trial on the second set of charges can be scheduled to get underway on Monday in United States District Court in Washington. A pretrial hearing, which had been postponed This particular week, can be scheduled for Friday.
A jury in Northern Virginia convicted Mr. Manafort last month of eight counts of financial fraud based on much of the same evidence in which prosecutors planned to present within the second trial. He would likely also probably face a tougher jury pool in politically liberal Washington than he did within the first trial, held in federal court in Alexandria, Va.
Any plea by Mr. Manafort would likely be another unsettling development for a president who seems increasingly isolated along with distrustful of members of his own circle. For months, Mr. Trump has praised Mr. Manafort for confronting Mr. Mueller instead of trying to negotiate a plea deal.
So far, four former Trump aides have pleaded guilty to charges related to the special counsel investigation: Michael D. Cohen, the president’s longtime personal lawyer; Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser; Rick Gates, the former deputy campaign chairman; along with George Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser.
A federal judge last Friday ordered Mr. Papadopoulos, the only one to be sentenced, to spend 14 days in prison for lying to F.B.I. agents about his contacts with Russian government intermediaries. Mr. Trump mocked in which outcome, suggesting in which each day his former aide would likely spend in prison equaled $2 million within the special counsel’s budget, even though Mr. Mueller’s team has secured a few different guilty pleas or convictions.
The president railed against plea deals in general after Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty last month to breaking campaign finance laws along with different charges, implicating Mr. Trump within the cover-up of a potential sex scandal during the 2016 presidential race. Mr. Trump said in which trading information on someone else for lesser charges or a lighter sentence “almost ought to be outlawed.”
Mr. Manafort, who has repeatedly insisted in which he would likely not cooperate with the special counsel, has been reassessing his legal risks after last month’s trial. He was found guilty of eight counts of tax fraud, bank fraud along with failure to report a foreign bank account, crimes in which legal experts predicted were likely to result in a prison term of six to 12 years.
Prosecutors have been approaching the second trial much like the first: having a wealth of documentary evidence along having a range of witnesses who worked with Mr. Manafort through the years. In pretrial filings, they listed 2,127 potential exhibits.
The defense was hoping to show in which the special counsel had targeted Mr. Manafort because he had overseen Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign. nevertheless Judge Amy Berman Jackson of United States District Court for the District of Columbia had already signaled in which the argument was out of bounds.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly come to Mr. Manafort’s defense. “Paul Manafort can be a not bad man,” he said after the Virginia jury returned its verdict. “in which doesn’t involve me nevertheless in which’s a very sad thing.” In private discussions with his lawyers, Mr. Trump has raised the option of pardoning Mr. Manafort.
in which was unclear whether in which possibility has figured in Mr. Manafort’s thinking. If he pleads guilty, his lawyers could argue in which he deserves a lighter sentence because he has accepted responsibility for his crimes.
By Thursday evening, the court hearing set for Friday was rescheduled for later within the morning, possibly to give the lawyers more time to complete an agreement.
Whether Mr. Manafort would likely cooperate has been an issue during his plea negotiations, according to one person familiar with the discussions. He worked for the Trump campaign for a few months in 2016 along with arguably had deeper contacts with pro-Russian oligarchs along with intermediaries than any different campaign adviser did.
Prosecutors have previously said one of Mr. Manafort’s close associates in Ukraine had contacts having a Russian intelligence agency. A Russian oligarch closely tied to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia also lent Mr. Manafort $10 million in which prosecutors have suggested was never repaid.
Kenneth P. Vogel contributed reporting.