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Paul Manafort, prosecutors reach tentative deal to avoid second trial, sources say

Paul Manafort, prosecutors reach tentative deal to avoid second trial, sources say

WASHINGTON-Paul Manafort, U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman and one of Washington's most prominent lobbyists, is close to a plea deal with federal prosecutors to avoid a trial scheduled for next week on charges stemming from work he did for pro-Russia political forces in Ukraine, people familiar with the case said Thursday.

Writing on Twitter on August 22, Trump said: "Unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to "break" - make up stories in order to get a 'deal".

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.

It was not clear whether Manafort would agree to cooperate with Mueller's inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on 10 counts for Manafort, however. Trump has denied colluding with the Russians.

Jackson said she would allow Downing to file additional information about his argument before issuing a ruling, but was inclined to bar such references because they weren't relevant to the charges against Manafort. Just as the news of the tentative deal was breaking, a previously scheduled pretrial hearing in the D.C. case was pushed back from 9:30 a.m. ET to 11 a.m. ET. Prosecutors said he evaded taxes on $16 million laundered through shell companies overseas.

Gates could be called as a prosecution witness in his Washington trial as well, as could veteran political operative Samuel Patten, who pleaded guilty to unregistered lobbying for Ukrainian politicians two weeks ago.

A second trial could delve deeper into Manafort's Russian connections including to Konstantin Kilimnik, a Ukrainian-Russian political consultant who was indicted along with Manafort and who Mueller's team has linked to Russian intelligence. In ruling against Manafort's request for a change of venue, Jackson said she could reconsider if they are unable to qualify enough jurors to proceed to jury selection in the case, scheduled to begin September 17. The witness tampering allegations were brought earlier this year, and Manafort has been in jail, awaiting trial, since June because of them.

Trump has repeatedly come to Manafort's defense.