US President Donald Trump’s former campaign aide Rick Gates pleads guilty amid Russia probe

February 23, 2018 6:47 am
President Trump’s former campaign aide leaves the Prettyman Federal Courthouse after a hearing February 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)
President ’s former campaign aide Rick Gates has pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy and false-statements amid the ongoing Russia probe.
The plea by Gates strongly indicates that he is planning to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller who is probing the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia.
This comes after Alex van der Zwaan, a former lawyer,  admitted Tuesday that he had lied to prosecutors about a September 2016 conversation with Gates.
The conversation the 33-year-old Dutch citizen had with Gates was about work they had done together for a Ukrainian political party aligned with Russia.
Zwaan’s decision to plead guilty also intensified pressure on Paul Manafort, Gates’s longtime business partner and the president’s former campaign chairman.
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives at the Prettyman Federal Courthouse January 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)
At the federal courthouse in Washington on Friday, Gates confessed he had conspired to defraud the US by concealing the money he and Manafort earned working in Ukraine. Also, he admitted to lying to FBI agents during a meeting three weeks ago, months after he was first indicted.
He said that he did not tell the truth about what was said at a 2013 meeting between Manafort and an unidentified member of Congress.
At the court, Judge Amy Berman Jackson read the offenses Gate was agreeing to plead guilty to as well as the possibility of being sentenced to between 57 and 71 months in prison.
“Yes, your honor,” Gate said repeatedly as the judge read the court documents.
In a letter to his family and friends, Gate said in spite of his “initial desire to vigorously defend myself,” he has had a “change of heart” to protect his family.
“The reality of how long this legal process will likely take, the cost, and the circus-like atmosphere of an anticipated trial are too much,” Gates wrote. “I will better serve my family moving forward by exiting this process.”
Meanwhile, Manafort issued a statement, maintaining his innocence.
“Notwithstanding that Rick Gates pled today, 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,” Manafort said.
“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.”
Gates and Manafort were also indicted in Alexandria, Virginia on Thursday on new charges of tax evasion and bank fraud.
The 32-count indictment filed by Mueller alleges that Manafort, with Gates’ assistance, laundered more than $30 million and duped banks into lending money. It says the pair used funds from secret offshore accounts to enjoy a life of luxury.
Trump has repeatedly denied allegations that his campaign colluded with the Russians and has condemned the investigations. Russia has also denied the allegations.
Skip to toolbar
shared on