Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates set to plead guilty

Source: NBC News | February 23, 2018 | Andrea Mitchell and Tracy Connor

WASHINGTON — Former campaign aide Rick Gates has agreed to plead guilty — becoming the third associate of President Donald Trump to make a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller, a source familiar with the proceedings told NBC News.

Gates, who was indicted with former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort in October on conspiracy and other charges related to their lobbying work in Ukraine, is expected to appear in federal court in Washington on Friday to enter the plea.

The development comes a day after Mueller filed a new 32-count indictment against Gates and Manafort, hitting them with new charges of tax and bank fraud. It also follows a guilty plea by a Russia-linked lawyer who admitted he lied to investigators about his contacts with Gates.

Gates would follow Mike Flynn, Trump’s short-tenured national security adviser, and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos in pleading guilty to charges filed by Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to the Trump operation.

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The charges against Gates and Manafort are not related to campaign work. Instead, the indictment says they laundered tens of millions of dollars in lobbying payments through a web of U.S. companies and banks.

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    “Gates pleaded guilty to the information — one count of making a false statement and one count of conspiracy against the U.S.”

    “Guidelines advisory sentencing range is 57 months to 71 months. Prosecution can request a shorter sentence but isn’t required to do so, according to the judge ”

     Consistent #21853


    But his plea does newly reveal that Gates spoke with the FBI earlier this month and lied during the interview. That same day, his attorneys filed a motion to withdraw from representing him for “irreconcilable difference.”

    The court papers accuse Gates of lying about a March 19, 2013, meeting involving Manafort, a lobbyist and a member of Congress. Gates said the meeting did not include discussion of Ukraine, when in fact prosecutors say it did.

    The charges don’t name the lobbyist or the lawmaker but filings with the Justice Department show Manafort and lobbyist Vin Weber of Mercury Public Affairs met with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., on that date as part of a lobbying campaign on behalf of Ukrainian interests.

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    Gates served on the Trump campaign at the same time that Manafort, Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner met with a team of Russians in Trump Tower in June 2016. He was also in the top ranks of the campaign when then-Sen. Jeff Sessions held a pair of undisclosed meetings with Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.

    For a few months in 2016, Gates was indispensable to Trump, leading the ground effort to help Trump win the Republican nomination and flying from state to state to secure Republican delegates in a scramble that lasted all the way until the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

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