Rick Gates, former deputy campaign chairman for President Donald Trump and associate of former campaign manager Paul Manafort is expected to plead guilty as early as Friday to charges brought against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, sources told the New York Times. Those sources are said to be familiar with a plea agreement that Gates reportedly made with the Special Counsel’s office.
This comes a day after Mueller filed new charges against Gates and Manafort in an indictment in Virginia federal court, accusing both men of tax fraud and bank fraud related to millions of dollars in income they allegedly earned for work they did for the Ukrainian government. This followed a previous indictment charging both men with conspiracy and money laundering based on similar allegations.
A guilty plea could be a sign that Gates will cooperate with the Special Counsel’s office, which could provide Mueller with significant information that may aid his investigation into matters related to the Trump campaign’s ties to Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 election. Once a campaign insider, Gates could have valuable information regarding Trump campaign ties to Russia. Alternatively, his plea could be used to provide investigators with additional information on Manafort, which could then be used to pressure the former campaign manager into cutting a deal and cooperating with Mueller.
So far, none of the indictments or convictions secured by Mueller’s office have involved illegal acts by Trump’s campaign in connection with Russian interference efforts. If such collusion took place, cooperation by Gates could go a long way towards uncovering evidence.
Gates had been rumored to be considering a plea deal, with recent reports indicating that he was looking to avoid a lengthy trial to spare his family.
This would be the latest in a series of high-profile guilty pleas from individuals connected to Trump’s campaign. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former aide George Papadopoulos already pleaded guilty to providing false statements to federal investigators.
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