Rick Gates, a former top aide to President Trump’s campaign, pleaded guilty to two felonies on Friday and promised to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Gates and Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort were indicted in October on charges that they secretly worked on behalf of a pro-Russian political faction in Ukraine and laundered $4 million in payments through overseas bank accounts.
Prosecutors piled on another 32 counts this week, revealing another indictment accusing the two of lying to obtain millions of dollars in bank loans and of laundering more than $30 million through overseas accounts to pay for real estate and luxury goods while evading U.S. taxes.
Gates’ guilty plea and his promise to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation intensifies the legal pressure on Manafort, who participated in some of the activities that have drawn the attention of investigators, including a 2016 meeting between Trump’s son Donald Trump, Jr. and a Russian lawyer offering damaging information about his rival, Hillary Clinton.
He is the fifth person to plead guilty to a federal crime in Mueller’s investigation, and the third Trump campaign aide who has promised to cooperate with investigators. rosecutors also have secured guilty pleas from Trump’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn and a campaign foreign policy aide, George Papadopoulos, who admitted that he met with a person he thought was tied to the Russian government who was offering “dirt” on Clinton.
Gates’ plea ends weeks of legal anguish for the longtime business partner of Manafort. Gates’ lawyers had publicly sought permission to drop him as a client over “irreconcilable differences.”