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Paul Manafort and special counsel close to deal for guilty plea

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and special counsel Robert Mueller are close to a deal for a guilty plea ahead of his upcoming trial, according to a source familiar with the matter.

A deal is expected but the source cautioned that the two sides have been close before.

The incentive appears to be to reach a deal ahead of a pre-trial motion hearing Friday, or before jury selection for Manafort’s trial over allegations of illegal foreign lobbying gets underway next week at US District Court in Washington.

It was not clear if Manafort would be required to cooperate with Mueller’s office. The plea is expected to address both sets of charges he faces — for the upcoming trial in DC and the 10 counts he still faces in Virginia after a mistrial was declared on some charges.

ABC reported Thursday that a tentative deal has been reached.

Manafort has not yet entered a new plea before the judge and prosecutors have not yet revealed the terms of any deal reached with him. That could be done at a court hearing Friday.

Indications have mounted throughout this week that a plea deal was in the works. Members of Manafort’s legal team were spotted spending several hours at the special counsel office’s Thursday. A member of Manafort’s legal team was seen bringing lunch into the office building. A prosecutor who secured convictions against him in Virginia and works with the US Attorney’s Office there — not the special counsel’s office — was also there Thursday, meaning that others outside his DC trial are still working on the case.

Then the judge overseeing his case, Amy Berman Jackson, delayed a major court hearing set for this about his upcoming trial twice. First, she moved it from Wednesday to Friday, then pushed it back an hour and a half Friday morning, giving no reasoning.

By Evan Perez and Katelyn Polantz, CNN