Paul Manafort is closing in on a plea deal with federal prosecutors that would allow him to sidestep a trial scheduled for next week, The New York Times reports. President Trump’s former campaign chairman has already been convicted on bank- and tax-fraud charges arising from Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election. However, the prominent lobbyist still faces trial for charges related to work he did for pro-Russia political forces in Ukraine. The Times reports it’s not clear what Manafort plans to plead guilty to as part of the deal, or if he is now prepared to cooperate with Mueller’s team on the probe into alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russia. Trump has previously praised Manafort for confronting Mueller instead of trying to negotiate a plea deal—any plea deal would be another blow for the president. Manafort is scheduled to appear in court Friday for a hearing related to the case.
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