Ex-Trump aide Manafort tentatively agrees to plea deal

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Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is close to reaching a plea deal that would avert a trial scheduled to start later this month in Washington, D.C. Manafort's legal team has been meeting with prosecutors from the special counsel's office to negotiate a plea deal.

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

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 and his most senior defense attorneys spent more than four hours Thursday in discussions with a team of special prosecutors who are involved in the ongoing investigation into whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

Prosecutors working for Mueller earlier filed a new set of charges against Manafort on Friday in which they accused him of conspiring against the United States when he worked as an unregistered agent of a pro-Russian political faction in Ukraine and of conspiring to obstruct justice by seeking to persuade two people who had helped with that work to offer inaccurate accounts to federal investigators.

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.

None of the charges against Manafort related to collusion with Russian Federation. One of the prosecutors, Andrew Weissman, confirmed in court that Manafort was cooperating with the government's investigation.

Manafort's wife Kathleen also did not answer questions when she stopped by the lawyers' office to drop off a navy men's suit.

If Manafort decides to cooperate with Mueller, it would be a blow to Trump, who last month praised his former aide for not entering into a plea agreement, as the president's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen had.

Since Manafort's guilty verdict in August, speculation has mounted that Trump could pardon him. Opening statements for trial number two are still scheduled (until we learn officially that there won't be a trial) for September 24.

Manafort had resisted agreeing to cooperate, particularly where President Trump was concerned, according to ABC News' previous reporting. His former business partner, Richard Gates, has pleaded guilty and cooperated in Mueller's probe, testifying against him in the first trial. The jury said they were hung on 10 other charges.

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