Ex-Trump aide Paul Manafort close to plea deal with Robert Mueller

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ABC News reported Thursday evening that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has reportedly agreed in principle to a "plea deal" with special counsel Robert Mueller that will ensure trial number two in Washington, D.C. never happens. Manafort, however, is resisting and his team is pushing prosecutors for a plea agreement that does not include cooperation, at least as related to the president, sources said.

ABC News spotted Manafort and his attorneys entering a secret entrance to the building where Mueller's office is located on Thursday morning, and the two parties spent more than four hours in there.

Manafort is charged with illegal lobbying, conspiracy, money laundering, and obstruction of justice in the second trial.

Both declined to comment for the ABC report.

According to a court filing from Manafort's defence team last month, Mueller's team plans to put forth "well over" 1,000 pieces of evidence in the Washington, DC, trial.

Manafort joined the Trump election headquarters in March 2016, headed it in June, but on August 19 he was sacked after Kiev accused him of illegally receiving large sums of money from 2007 to 2012.

The sticking point on a deal has appeared to be Manafort's cooperation with the Mueller Probe, but this cooperation could also jeopardize Manafort's chance at being pardoned by President Donald Trump.

The defence has planned to show that the special counsel had targeted Manafort because he had headed Trump's presidential campaign. Gates may be a prosecution witness in his Washington trial as well.

Manafort's attorneys had argued that the trial should be moved to Roanoke, Virginia, because the intensity of publicity in Washington made it impossible for him to receive a fair trial.

Trump has repeatedly come to Manafort's defence.

ImagePaul Manafort can also merely steer clear of a trial by reaching a plea address federal prosecutors.

Prosecutors have previously said one of Manafort's close associates in Ukraine had contacts with a Russian intelligence agency.

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.