A former top adviser to Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election after pleading guilty on Friday to financial fraud and lying to investigators.
This excerpt is pulled from Mark Mazzetti’s and Maggie Haberman’s article, “Rick Gates, Trump Campaign Aide, Pleads Guilty in Mueller Inquiry and Will Cooperate”, published by the New York Times on February 23, 2018. Read the full report here.
The adviser, Rick Gates, is a longtime political consultant who once served as Trump’s deputy campaign chairman. The plea deal could be a significant development in the investigation — a sign that Gates plans to offer incriminating information against his longtime associate and the former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and possibly other members of the campaign in exchange for a lighter punishment. He faces up to nearly six years in prison.
The deal came as the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has been raising pressure on Gates and Manafort with dozens of new charges of money laundering and bank fraud unsealed on Thursday. Both men were first indicted in October and pleaded not guilty. The plea agreement was part of a flurry of recent activity by the special counsel’s team. Last week, 13 Russians were indicted on charges relating to a carefully planned scheme to incite political discord in the United States in the months before the 2016 election.
Gates changed his plea on Friday during an appearance in a Washington courtroom, his eyes cast down as the government outlined the charges against him. A man who had made millions of dollars lobbying in Ukraine accepted the fate that may await him: a prison sentence for carrying out a financial conspiracy to hide the money he earned there.
He also admitted that he lied to investigators this month — while under indictment and negotiating with prosecutors — about the details of a 2013 meeting about Ukraine that Manafort had with a pro-Russian member of Congress.