WASHINGTON – Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman and one of Washington's most prominent lobbyists, is close to appealing with federal prosecutors to avoid a trial scheduled for next week due to his work for pro-Russian political forces in Ukraine The persons familiar with the case said on Thursday.
Mr Manafort has already been convicted of related bank and tax fraud allegations for an investigation by Special Adviser Robert S. Mueller III. Negotiations on a Plede deal refer to a separate set of seven charges involving conspiracy, obstruction of justice, money laundering, misrepresentations and breaches of a disclosure law.
It was not clear which charges Mr. Manafort could plead guilty to or whether he was investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, the possible collusion with the Trump campaign, and Mr. Trump's interference with the judiciary with Mr. Müller's team would cooperate.
His lawsuit against the second indictment is set to begin Monday in the US District Court in Washington. A pre-trial postponed this week is scheduled for Friday.
A jury in northern Virginia condemned Mr. Manafort in eight cases last month for financial fraud, based on the same evidence the prosecutor wanted to present in the second trial.
In politically liberal Washington, he would probably face a harder jury pool than in the first trial before the federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.
Any request from Mr Manafort would be another disturbing development for a president who appears increasingly isolated and suspicious of members of his own circle.
Mr. Trump has praised Mr. Manafort for months for dealing with Mr. Mueller instead of trying to negotiate a deal.
So far, four former Trump consultants have pleaded guilty to charges of investigating special cases: Michael D. Cohen, the president's longtime personal advocate; Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser; Rick Gates, former deputy campaign chairman; and George Papadopoulos, a former campaign consultant.
Only Mr. Papadopoulos was convicted; a judge last Friday ordered him to spend 14 days in prison because he was F.B.I. Agents about his contacts with Russian government intermediaries.
Mr. Manafort has reassessed his legal risks after the process last month. He was convicted in eight cases of tax fraud, bank fraud and misappropriation of a foreign bank account. Crimes that, judging by legal experts, are likely to result in a prison sentence of six to twelve years.
Prosecutors have moved closer to the second process, similar to the first, with a wealth of documents and a number of witnesses who have worked with Mr Manafort over the years. In preliminary investigations, they listed 2,127 potential exhibits.
The defense plans to show that the Special Adviser targeted Mr. Manafort for leading Mr. Trump's presidential campaign. But Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the US District Court for the District of Columbia had already signaled that this argument was out of bounds.
Mr Trump has repeatedly come in defense of Mr Manafort. "Paul Manafort is a good man," he said after the jury from Virginia returned his verdict. "It does not kill me, but it's a very sad thing." In private talks with his lawyers, Mr Trump raised the option of pardoning Mr Manafort.
It was unclear whether this possibility was included in Mr. Manafort's thinking. If he pleads guilty, his lawyers might argue that he deserves a lighter sentence for assuming responsibility for his crimes.
Kenneth P. Vogel contributed to the coverage.