Plea deal by former Trump aide brings Russia probe closer to White House
24 February 2018
In a major escalation of the political warfare in Washington, Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Friday secured a plea deal from Rick Gates, a longtime associate of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and himself a deputy campaign manager during the 2016 campaign and consultant on the Trump transition team after the election.
Gates pleaded guilty to charges of money laundering, tax evasion, bank fraud and lying to the FBI. The charges were laid out in an indictment unsealed Thursday in Alexandria, Virginia. He also pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, failure to register as an agent of a foreign entity and making false statements to investigators, which were contained in a previous indictment unveiled last October.
Manafort is similarly charged in the two sets of indictments, but has thus far refused to enter into a plea agreement and maintains his innocence.
As part of his plea deal, Gates agreed to cooperate with the Mueller investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US elections and possible collusion by the campaign of President Donald Trump. There are many indications that Mueller’s team is also building a case of obstruction of justice against the Trump White House.
With his guilty plea, Gates becomes the third Trump aide to enter into a plea agreement with Mueller, the former long-time director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and agree to cooperate with his investigation. The other two are Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor, and George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy aide during the election campaign.
The indictment unveiled Thursday underscored the ruthlessness with which Mueller is proceeding. It had…