Manafort Sought Last Minute Plea Deal In Second Trial, But Talks Collapsed

A last-minute deal to resolve a second set of charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort broke down last week shortly before a Virginia jury convicted him of eight counts of fraud, reports the Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter. 

Manafort Sought Last Minute Plea Deal In Second Trial, But Talks Collapsed

The plea talks on the second set of charges stalled over issues raised by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, one of the people said. It isn’t clear what those issues were, and the proposed terms of the plea deal couldn’t immediately be determined. –WSJ

The plea negotiations were aimed at forestalling Manafort’s second trial, scheduled for September 17 in Washington D.C., as prosecutors and defense attorneys argue over how to present that case to the jury – including what evidence will be allowed at trial. The two sides will meet Tuesday morning before US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. 

Hilariously, President Trump praised Manafort for refusing to “break” under pressure, “unlike Michael Cohen” – when Manafort was about to do just that before Mueller got in the way. 

Manafort’s charges were split into two separate trials on related allegations because he declined to allow prosecutors to combine them into one case. 

The Virginia indictment was related to filing false tax returns between 2010 and 2014 while misleading several US banks in order to obtain millions of dollars in loans in 2016. Following his conviction last week, a juror admitted that while Manafort was convicted on eight counts, the other 10 counts were declared a mistrial due to a lone juror holding out despite “overwhelming” evidence. 

Prosecutors will have until Wednesday to tell the court whether they plan to retry Manafort on the remaining 10 counts, however both sides are preparing for their D.C. trial in three weeks. 

Manafort’s second trial will focus on his failure to register as a lobbyist for the former Ukrainian ruling party between 2008 and 2014, as well as conspiracy to launder millions of dollars of income from that work from US authorities. 

In June, prosecutors tacked on charges that Manafort attempted to influence the testimony by potential witnesses – a move which landed the former Trump aide in jail as he awaited trial. 

In a filing late Friday, prosecutors said they expected to take 10 to 12 days to present their case. Last week they turned over to Mr. Manafort’s team more than 1,500 exhibits they plan to present. –WSJ

Manafort’s attorneys haven’t said whether they will present a defense, however if they did it would take approximately three or four days – adding that they are in the process of identifying expert witnesses who can testify on rules governing money-laundering and foreign-lobbying registration.
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