- Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is expected to plead guilty on Friday.
- The guilty plea is a sign that Gates is cooperating with the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
- Gates is the third individual known to be cooperating with Mueller.
Rick Gates, a former adviser to President Donald Trump’s campaign, is expected to plead guilty Friday and cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to multiple reports.
The move indicates that he is cooperating with Mueller’s team in its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether any members of the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin in their meddling efforts.
Gates is the third individual known to be cooperating with Mueller.
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign foreign-policy adviser George Papadopoulos each pleaded guilty last year to one count of making false statements to federal investigators. Both are cooperating witnesses in the Russia probe.
On Thursday, Mueller filed 32 new charges on top of a previous indictment announced last October against Gates and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The new charges alleged that more than $US75 million flowed through the defendants’ offshore accounts and that Manafort laundered over $US30 million in undisclosed income with Gates’s assistance. Gates is alleged to have laundered more than $US3 million.
Mueller’s initial indictment charged Gates and Manafort on 12 counts, including money laundering, tax fraud, conspiracy against the US, and failure to register as foreign agents. They both pleaded not guilty at the time.
Gates has often been described as Manafort’s “right-hand man” and an influential Trump booster with wide-ranging connections to powerful leaders and businessmen around the world.
But a testimony from Gates in which he corroborates allegations made in Mueller’s indictment could pit him up against his former boss.
By cooperating with Mueller, Gates can expect “a substantial reduction in his sentence,” the Los Angeles Times reported, adding that he could serve up to 18 months in prison.
The charges against Gates and Manafort stem from their financial dealings as political consultants in Ukraine with the country’s former strongman, Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort was reportedly instrumental in helping Yanukovych win the Ukrainian presidency in 2010.
Gates joined the Trump campaign in the spring of 2016 when Manafort became the campaign manager, working as Manafort’s deputy. He travelled with Trump and grew close with many top campaign officials, including former chief of staff Reince Priebus and adviser Tom Barrack.
After Manafort was ousted as Trump’s campaign chief in August 2016, Gates continued working on behalf of the soon-to-be president, helping fundraise $US25 million for the pro-Trump nonprofit America First Policies and working on Trump’s inaugural committee.
As Mueller’s probe intensified in the early months of the Trump administration, Gates left the nonprofit altogether.
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