Paul Manafort to plead guilty as part of plea deal with special counsel

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will plead guilty in federal court Friday as part of a plea agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Fox News has learned.

The details of the plea agreement, and whether Manafort would cooperate with prosecutors, were not immediately known. A court hearing is set for Friday morning.

Manafort, in a trial set to begin Sept. 24 , is facing seven counts of foreign lobbying violations and witness tampering in federal court in Washington. 

In August, in a separate trial in Virginia, a federal jury found Manafort guilty on eight counts of federal tax and banking crimes.

The case was brought by Mueller’s team, which is probing potential crimes related to the 2016 election. But Manafort has not been charged with anything related to the campaign.

In August, Manafort’s bank and tax fraud conviction made him the first campaign associate of Trump found guilty by a jury as part of Mueller’s probe.

“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort,” Trump told reporters after the August verdict, adding that it had “nothing to do with Russian collusion.”

In that trial, prosecutors said Manafort hid income earned from political work overseas from the IRS while fraudulently obtaining millions in bank loans. Manafort, 69, had pleaded not guilty to all counts.

The prosecution’s star witness, Rick Gates – Manafort’s former business partner who struck a plea deal to cooperate with the government — testified during the trial that he and Manafort committed bank and tax fraud together.

Manafort attorney Kevin Downing suggested after the guilty verdict that Manafort was open to striking a deal before the second trial.

“He is evaluating all of his options at this point,” Downing said of Manafort.

Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues.

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