Rick Gates, Former Trump Campaign Aide, Pleads Guilty
The former Trump campaign aide and business partner of Paul Manafort plead guilty to federal conspiracy and making false statements.
In addition to pleading guilty to the charges, Gates has agreed to turn witness in Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. This is part of a plea deal that allowed Gates to avoid additional charges filed by Mueller. Those charges included tax evasion and bank fraud. Gates is now the fifth person to plead guilty to charges stemming from the Russia investigation and the third to turn witness. While a sentencing date has not been set, Gates could spend up to ten years in prison. His charges also carry a maximum fine of $500,000.
In a letter to family and friends, Gates explained that “despite my initial desire to vigorously defend myself, I have had a change of heart.” Additionally, Gates claimed most of his motivation stems from not wanting to put his family through the process of a legal battle.
From defendant to witness.
With Gates now a witness for Mueller’s investigation, all eyes are on Paul Manafort. The former Trump campaign chairman and long business partner of Gates faces more than 30 indictments. The bulk of those charges were made public on Friday. For his part, Manafort continues to proclaim his innocence. After news of the plea deal broke, Manafort released this statement.
“I continue to maintain my innocence. I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence. For reasons yet to surface he chose to do otherwise. This does not alter my commitment to defend myself against the untrue piled up charges contained in the indictments against me.”
Despite the image painted by prosecutors Friday during Gates’s plea hearing, only time will tell just how deep of water Manafort is in.