Published: Sat, February 24, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Trump's campaign aide Rick Gates to plead guilty

Rick Gates, a former deputy manager of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, will plead guilty Friday to charges of conspiracy and making false statements in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian activity in the 2016 election. It comes a day after Gates and Manafort were indicted in Virginia on new charges of tax evasion and bank fraud.

But for The Bird, and people who like to toast the downfalls of the President's associates, Gates's plea brings another occasion to trot out the popular "Moscow Mueller" special, which is added to the menu whenever Mueller files charges or gets a guilty plea in his investigation.

It is not clear to what charges Gates intends to plead guilty. ABC News said Gates had been wrangling over what to do and only finalized his deal with Mueller a few days ago.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is accusing President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman of secretly paying former European politicians to lobby on behalf of Ukraine. Gates will admit he lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation when he said he was "told by [former campaign chairman Paul] Manafort and a senior Company A lobbyist that there were no discussions of Ukraine" at the meeting, when in fact there had been discussions about Ukraine.

As part of the new indictment, the special counsel claims that after Manafort and Gates saw their income dwindle through at least January 2017, they "extracted money" from Manafort's US real estate to obtain loans from several financial institutions. He says Gates chose to plead guilty for "reasons yet to surface".

In the letter, Gates, who pleaded not guilty to charges announced last October, told his family that had "a change of heart" and that he ultimately settled on the "gut-wrenching decision" to plead guilty for the sake of his loved ones.

Manafort said in a statement on Friday that Gates' plea "does not alter my commitment to defend myself against the untrue piled up charges".

Gates' lawyer, Thomas Green, declined to comment, saying he would "keep our powder dry".

In an interview with POLITICO past year, Rohrabacher said the two men, who have known each other for decades, had dinner together at the Capitol Hill Club.

CNN first reported that Green was seen at Mueller's offices in Washington, D.C., twice in late January, and the outlet noted that Mueller's team appeared to be using a "softer touch" with Gates compared to Manafort.

The plea also comes quickly on the heels of a stunning indictment last week that laid out a broad operation of election meddling by Russian Federation, which began in 2014, and employed fake social media accounts and on-the-ground politicking to promote Trump's campaign, disparage Hillary Clinton and sow division and discord widely among the USA electorate.

Prosecutors are trying to pressure Manafort to speak with prosecutors about what he knows, particularly about the campaign.

Prosecutors allege that when the Justice Department approached Manafort and Gates in 2016 and 2017 about whether they should have registered as foreign agents for the work, they responded with false and misleading letters. According to the document, Gates lied when he said Ukraine was not discussed at the meeting. The 12 counts included conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, being an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, seven counts of failure to report foreign bank accounts and transactions, and submitting false Foreign Agent Registration Act forms as well. His lawyers moved to withdraw from the case the same day.

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