Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, will plead guilty to multiple charges rather than face trial a second time, ABC News reported late on Thursday. But whether the deal requires Manafort — who has known Trump since at least since 1980 — to cooperate with Russia investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueler by providing potentially incriminating information about Trump was not revealed.
Full details of the Manafort plea agreement were expected to be made public in a Friday court hearing, ABC News reported. On August 21, Manafort was found guilty on eight tax and bank fraud counts, as CNN reported. The jury in that federal court trial could not reach a verdict on 10 more counts.
According to CNN Russia investigation reporter Marshall Cohen, writing on his Twitter account, the plea deal will cover the 10 unresolved counts, as well as the numerous charges Manafort was scheduled to face in a trial that was set to begin on September 24 in Washington, D.C. Those charges would have included money laundering, witness tampering, and acting as an unregistered foreign agent, according to USA Today.
While ABC News reported that a “tentaive” plea deal had been reached between Manafort and Mueller, Reuters reported that no deal was completed as of early Thursday evening.
“It’s close but not there yet,” a source told Reuters.
According to the ABC News report, whether the deal included a promise of cooperation with the Special Counsel’s investigation by Manafort remains unknown. However, as The Atlantic reported, Manafort and Trump are part of a “joint defense agreement,” or JDA, meaning that lawyers for each are free to share information. Typically, under a JDA, when one defendant agrees to provide information against another, the JDA is terminated.
When Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn agreed to take a guilty plea and cooperate with Mueller, he withdrew from his JDA with Trump, as Talking Points Memo reported. Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen also pulled out of his JDA with Trump before he pleaded guilty to eight felonies and implicated Trump as a co-conspirator in two of them, as Inquisitr reported.
Journalist Marcy Wheeler, who has covered the Russia investigation, said via Twitter that Manafort has likely not agreed to flip on Trump, because there has been no announcement that Manafort has terminated his JDA with Trump.
Trump had been “musing” about granting Manafort a pardon on the charges against him, as the Inquisitr reported. According to former Justice Department official Matthew Miller, if Manafort offers a guilty plea without agreeing to flip on Trump, “it’s probably because he got a better deal from Trump.”
When Manafort opened his first political consulting form in 1980, Trump was the firm’s first client, as the Inquisitr reported