Manafort Wants "No Cooperation" Plea Deal

Shawn Thew  EPA  REX via Shutterstock

Shawn Thew EPA REX via Shutterstock

Paul Manafort, the former campaign chair for President Donald Trump, reached a "tentative" agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to charges that were set to be taken to trial this month, according to a new report from ABC News.

Spokesmen for special counsel Mueller and Manafort would not respond to requests for comment.

Manafort was convicted on 8 of 18 charges in a separate trial in Virginia that ended last month.

Manafort attorney Kevin Downing said Wednesday that his team wants to introduce evidence showing the rarity of FARA prosecutions and to argue that the prosecution was instigated by the special counsel's office because Manafort led the Trump campaign. Trump has denied colluding with the Russians and the Russians have denied interfering.

Manafort has been reassessing his legal risks after last month's trial.

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Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal defense attorney, said Thursday that he is not anxious about Manafort cutting a plea deal because Trump's team is convinced he won't say anything damaging about the president. 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 report comes after U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled Manafort's second trial will remain in the District of Columbia.

What isn't clear is whether Manafort would accept a deal in which he receives leniency in exchange for cooperation. His former business partner, Richard Gates, has pleaded guilty and cooperated in Mueller's probe, testifying against him in the first trial. 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. Trump has not said whether he would pardon Manafort but he has not publicly ruled it out. Opening statements for trial number two are still scheduled (until we learn officially that there won't be a trial) for September 24.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is representing Trump in the Russian Federation probe, previously told the Politico news outlet that taking a plea deal to avoid a second trial would not crush Manafort's chances of receiving an eventual presidential pardon.

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