Reports: Former Trump Campaign Associate to Plead Guilty in Russia Probe

Rick Gates, a former associate of President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, is expected to plead guilty and agree to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the election, several U.S. media outlets reported on Friday.


The guilty plea could come as early as Friday afternoon, ABC News reported, citing a letter Gates sent his friends and family earlier in the day.


Gates’ lawyer, Thomas Green, didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether his client planned to plead guilty.


Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office declined to comment.


Gates is expected to become the third former Trump campaign associate to plead guilty to criminal charges and agree to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation into whether there was collusion between the Trump team and Russia during the 2016 election.


Former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos last year pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about their interactions with Russian officials.


It was not immediately clear what charges Gates will plead guilty to.  He faced decades in prison over a raft of charges brought by Mueller.  A guilty plea to a lesser charge and cooperation with prosecutors could help him reduce jail time.


The expected plea comes a day after Mueller’s office announced a new indictment against Gates and his former business partner and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

The new indictment accuses Gates and Manafort of bank fraud and tax evasion among other charges, alleging the two men avoided taxes by hiding millions of dollars in consulting fees from Ukrainian politicians as bank loans from offshore entities.


Manafort and Gates were initially charged in a 12-count indictment in October in connection with a multi-million dollar money laundering conspiracy tied to their political work in Ukraine. They were also accused of failing to register as agents of a foreign government.


Manafort headed the Trump campaign from June to August 2016. Gates was brought into the campaign by Manafort and stayed on even after Manafort was fired a few months later following revelations about his Russian connections.


The charges against Gates and Manafort are not related to a key question Mueller has been investigating since his appointment last May – whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.


Last week, Muller’s office announced charges against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for conspiring to disrupt the U.S. elections and tilt it in favor of the real estate tycoon. The indictment, however, did not allege collusion on the part of the Trump campaign.


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