Trump campaign aide Rick Gates to plead guilty in Mueller investigation
Former Donald Trump campaign official Rick Gates will plead guilty to two criminal charges in special counsel Robert Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation of Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential campaign and related activities.
His arraignment is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday.
It comes one day after Mueller filed new charges against Gates and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. In the indictment, prosecutors described a “scheme” in which the two longtime business partners allegedly laundered $30 million, failed to pay taxes for almost 10 years and used real estate they owned to fraudulently secure more than $20 million in loans.
Already, the pair faced a combined 12 criminal charges in federal court in Washington, DC, for alleged money laundering and failing to disclose banking information and foreign lobbying work they did prior to 2015. A handful of Thursday’s charges are also connected to the charges related to offshore accounts in the previous indictment.
Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty to the charges they face in DC in October. Manafort has denied all charges against him.
Last Friday, the special counsel produced grand jury indictments for 13 Russian nationals, accusing them of operating a misinformation campaign to hurt Hillary Clinton’s presidential effort.
Plea in motion for weeks
Gates has been in negotiations with Mueller’s office for more than a month, and that Gates had spoken to prosecutors about his case since his indictment, CNN previously reported.
Defense lawyer Tom Green, who’s handled the plea negotiation for Gates, told the court he’d represent Gates officially Thursday night, a strong indication that Gates was on the precipice of a plea deal with prosecutors. Gates’ trial lawyers have now left the case.
Even as of yesterday, Gates’ friends had tried to convince him not to plead guilty and sought for him a lawyer who would discount his cost, but Gates changed his mind.
Gates rejected several offers of a deal from the special counsel in recent days. Although at times this week a deal appeared to be off, talks were still continuing throughout Thursday until the deal was done, according to sources familiar with the matter.