Manafort Reaches Preliminary Agreement with Mueller to Avoid Second Trial

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A tentative deal has been reached between Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and special counsel Robert Mueller according to a new ABC News report.

Manafort has already been convicted of eight counts brought by Mueller in a case, focused on tax fraud and bank fraud allegations, that went to trial in Virginia this summer.

CNN, however, described the two sides as coming "close" to a deal on Thursday.

Manafort and his top lawyers spent more than four hours Thursday in discussions with a team of Mueller's special prosecutors who are neck deep in the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the USA election and possible collusion with Trump's campaign.

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ABC News reported Thursday evening, citing "sources familiar with the negotiations" that the plea deal will be announced Friday in court.

Manafort was at a controversial meeting at Trump Tower in 2016 where Russians were offering "dirt" on election opponent Hillary Clinton.

Notes from former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on a meeting he attended past year with a Russian lobbyist and Donald Trump Jr. are not seen as damaging to the Trump family or campaign officials, according to government officials and others who have looked at the notes...

"It's close but not there yet", one of the sources said of negotiations in the second case against Manafort arising from Mueller's investigation of USA intelligence agencies' conclusions that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 US election, which Moscow denies.

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Word of the agreement comes as Manafort's second trial was slated to begin later this month in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing and Mueller spokesman Peter Carr declined to comment on the ABC News report. A plea deal on the charges would preclude the need for a trial, sparing Manafort the steep legal fees of a second round of prosecution. Opening statements for trial number two are still scheduled (until we learn officially that there won't be a trial) for September 24.

Since Manafort's guilty verdict in August, speculation has mounted that Trump could pardon him.

A second trial could 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.

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Prosecutors have said Manafort and Kilimnik conspired to tamper with witnesses, an allegation that later led in June to U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Columbia Amy Berman Jackson revoking Manafort's bail and ordering him jailed. The jury said they were hung on 10 other charges.

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