Manafort signals he intends to plead guilty before new trial

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse for a hearing

Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is preparing to plead guilty in a Washington court to avoid a second trial over further criminal charges.

According to the court filing, the charge of conspiracy against the United States includes money laundering, tax fraud, failing to disclose foreign bank accounts, and acting as an unregistered lobbyist for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

Prosecutors filed new charging documents against Manafort which contained a criminal information, a document that can only be filed with a defendant's consent and typically signals a deal has been reached.

Manafort is due in federal court for what the Justice Department called "an arraignment and plea agreement hearing" on Friday morning, following the release of new charging documents against him. Manafort and Mueller had also been in plea talks while the jury was in deliberations during his Virginia trial, but those negotiations had fallen through.

As part of the deal, Manafort, 69, could be required to cooperate with Mueller's probe into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russian Federation in the 2016 election. The remaining five charges against Manafort will be dropped.

The planned plea, if accepted by a judge, would short-circuit his second trial scheduled to begin later this month in the District of Columbia on charges of money laundering and lobbying violations.

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The details of the plea deal ― including whether it indicates that Manafort has to cooperate with Mueller's team ― are not yet available.

This, in turn, may endear him to President Trump, who has already called Manafort a "good man" who has been unfairly targeted by the Justice Department.

Manafort's conviction in Alexandria, Virginia, last month was at a trial arising from Mueller's investigation.

Earlier this year, Manafort derided Gates, his former business partner, for striking a deal with prosecutors that provided him leniency in exchange for testimony against his former partner. "It shows you've admitted your guilt", he said on Friday before a deal was announced.

The punishment that Manafort may receive related to his D.C. case, and any cooperation he may have offered the government, weren't immediately clear.

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