Amid reports that former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort has tentatively agreed to a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller, Trump’s legal team told the press that they’re not worried about it having any negative impact on the president. In fact, lawyers close to the case believe a plea deal could benefit both men.
ABC News reported Thursday that “sources familiar with the negotiations” say that Manafort and Mueller have reached a tentative agreement for a plea deal expected to be announced in court Friday. “[I]t remains unclear whether Manafort has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors or is simply conceding to a guilty plea, which would allow him to avoid the stress and expense of trial,” ABC reports.
Trump lawyer and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani told Politico in an interview late Wednesday that Trump’s legal team is unconcerned about a potential plea deal.
“From our perspective, we want him to do the right thing for himself,” Giuliani told Politico. “There’s no fear that Paul Manafort would cooperate against the president because there’s nothing to cooperate about and we long ago evaluated him as an honorable man.”
That Manafort would want to avoid another trial just makes sense, said Giuliani. If Manafort had anything damaging, they would have gotten it out of him already, he suggested.
“We can see a reason why he might want to do that. What’s the need for another trial?” he said. “They’ve got enough to put him in jail. His lawyer is going to argue they shouldn’t. The judge should decide this. Not Mueller. I think it’s pretty clear if they were going to get anything from him, they’d have gotten it already. What’s the point of further harassing him?”
Politico notes that “lawyers close to the case” say a plea deal could be advantageous for both Manafort and Trump:
Trump could avoid a distracting, high-profile political spectacle just weeks before midterm elections in which GOP losses could severely crimp his power and might lead to his impeachment. Manafort could save hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills stemming from another showdown with Mueller, while still preserving the possibility of a presidential pardon.
Manafort was convicted last month on 8 of 18 tax and bank fraud charges unrelated to Trump and his campaign.