It remains unclear if the deal will include Manafort cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Monday in Manafort's second trial in federal court in Washington on charges including conspiring to launder money, conspiring to defraud the United States, failing to register as a foreign agent and witness tampering. He already faces around 10 years in prison after having been convicted in a separate case last month in the Eastern District of Virginia on bank and tax fraud charges.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump's lead defense attorney, told Politico on Thursday that the president's legal team is not concerned about the possibility of a plea deal in Manafort's case, because they are convinced he won't say anything damaging about Trump. Jackson is allowing prosecutors to mention that Manafort was campaign chairman in August 2016 when press reports, including articles by The Associated Press, called attention to his lobbying work on behalf of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the pro-Russian Party of Regions.
Manafort's cooperation could be significant.
Indications have mounted throughout this week that a plea deal was in the works.
Manafort's attorneys had argued that the trial should be moved to Roanoke, Virginia, because the intensity of publicity in Washington made it impossible for him to receive a fair trial.
Another reason for Manafort to enter a plea - and the ABC News report reiterated this - is that Manafort would be spared exorbitant legal costs on a second trial that already appears likely to result in a guilty verdict, at least in part. What we still don't know: whether Manafort will cooperate with the special counsel. Trump has not said whether or not he would pardon Manafort, but he has not publicly ruled it out.
In addition to the criminal charges, prosecutors said in a court filing that Manafort could be forced to forfeit assets that would deal him a significant financial blow: four houses he owns, including an expansive retreat in the Hamptons, plus four bank accounts and the proceeds of a life insurance policy.