Dear Commons Community,
It appears that another suspect in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling and possible collusion in the 2016 election is ready to flip. The Los Angeles Times and other media are reporting that Rick Gates, a former campaign aide to President Donald Trump, will plead guilty to charges related to fraud and is willing to testify against his longtime business partner, Paul Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign manager during part of the 2016 presidential race. As reported by The Los Angeles Times :
“Speculation has grown for weeks that Gates would cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing inquiry into Russian meddling in the presidential election. Gates, who served as Trump’s deputy campaign manager, was indicted in October along with Manafort on charges ranging from money laundering to violations of foreign lobbying laws. He pleaded not guilty to all charges at the time, which carry 10 years or more in potential sentences.
The plea will reportedly change in the coming days, and Gates will likely serve about 18 months in prison in exchange for his cooperation, the Times reported.
“Rick Gates is going to change his plea to guilty,″ a source familiar with the case told the outlet.
The Mueller probe has flipped two other high-profile Trump associates in recent months ― former national security adviser Michael Flynn and foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos. Both men have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about their contacts with Russian officials and have been cooperating with the investigation for months.
Gates’ lawyers have been negotiating with Mueller’s legal team for weeks, CNN reported on Saturday. According to the outlet, the special counsel’s team was finalizing a deal after Gates was allowed to give what’s known as a “Queen for a Day” interview, which typically allows a defendant to speak openly about their knowledge of an investigation without facing additional charges.
Gates could play a pivotal role in a trial against Manafort, who has stood by his own not guilty plea following the October indictment. A source told the Times that Gates’ cooperation would be a “cherry on top” of the case.
A White House official told CNN the Trump administration wasn’t worried about Gates’ cooperation with Mueller, as the president believed the flip was arranged to get more information against Manafort.
The Justice Department announced a sweeping set of charges against 13 Russians and three Russian entities on Friday, detailing a sophisticated campaign to sow discord among U.S. voters in the presidential election and in the process help elect Trump.”
Special Counsel Mueller is getting closer and closer to those around Trump and company.