Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has concluded a plea deal that will avert a trial in Washington, D.C., on charges related to his lobbying work in Ukraine and allegations of witness tampering in the case against him.
The new court filing indicates that prosecutors have taken a number of the earlier charges against Manafort, including a money laundering charge that could, on its own, bring a 20-year sentence, and folded them into two charges that would each yield five-year sentences.
The move toward a guilty plea is another reversal for Manafort, who has fought vociferously - but unsuccessfully - against Mueller's probe.
It is not clear whether any agreement with prosecutors would require him to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.
Manafort's legal team blamed most of his problems on former business partner Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty this year and testified against Manafort in Virginia.
With a plea deal, Manafort would avoid a trial that was set to last at least three weeks and posed the potential of adding years onto the 7 to 10 years he is already facing from his conviction in Virginia last month.
The decision by Trump's onetime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to plead guilty last month in a federal investigation in Manhattan particularly angered the president, who denounced him as a "flipper". Trump has denied colluding with the Russians and the Russians have denied interfering. So far, Manafort has refused to turn on his former boss - unlike other Trump administration figures - and there has been speculation that he is waiting on a pardon from the president at some later date. The president has previously signaled he's sympathetic to Manafort's cause, and his attorney Rudy Giuliani told Politico a plea without a cooperation agreement wouldn't foreclose the possibility of a pardon. Yanukovych was ousted from the country in 2014, and Manafort's consulting work in Ukraine dried up, according to evidence presented by the prosecutors in the Virginia trial.
"It's not going to hurt him if he pleads guilty".
The developments were first reported by ABC News, which said details of the deal would be announced in court on Friday.