Manafort Said To Agree To Plea Deal With Special Counsel

Several weeks ago, when Trump was battered on the same day by a one-two punch of his former campaign chairman Tim Manafort being found guilty on 8 counts of tax evasion, coupled with his former lawyer Michael Cohen pleading guilty to campaign finance violations, Trump had only glowing words to say for Manafort - who (at the time) refused to turn and cop a plea with federal prosecutors - while not hiding his "displeasure" with Cohen's decision to cooperate with the Feds.

All that may change very soon, because according to ABC, Manafort has tentatively agreed to a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller that will head off his upcoming trial.

While a deal is expected to be announced as soon as Friday, more importantly it 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.

Whatever the outcome, according to ABC, Manafort and his most senior defense attorneys spent more than four hours on Thursday in discussions with a team of special prosecutors who are involved in the ongoing investigation into whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

ABC News spotted the team arriving in a dark SUV Thursday morning, pulling into a secret entrance out of public view at the building where Special Counsel Robert Mueller is based.

The potential plea agreement comes just days before Manafort's second trial is slated to begin later this month in federal court in Washington, D.C.

As a reminder, Trump's former right hand mand and 69-year-old GOP operative was charged in Washington, D.C., with several counts of fraud and failing to register as a foreign agent by the special counsel. A second case was opened in Virginia earlier this year on related charges that ended with a jury finding Manafort guilty on eight counts out of an 18-count indictment, which threatens Manafort with a maximum of 80 years behind the bars, although under sentencing guidelines the term is likely to be closer to seven years. He has not been sentenced in that case.