Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates has entered into plea negotiations with special counsel Robert Mueller. The talks could indicate that he is prepared to cooperate with Mueller in his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
Gates has reportedly had what’s known as a “Queen for a Day” interview, in which a defendant answers any questions from prosecutors in a case. In such an interview, a defendant is usually allowed to admit any crimes they have committed and confess to any knowledge they have about other crimes with little consequences, unless they lie. Experts say that no defendant provides incriminating evidence about themselves unless a plea deal is close to being struck, and that rarely does a defendant admit to crimes then return to fighting the charges.
The interviews are conducted to help prosecutors ascertain what information of value a defendant has and what the value of any potential plea deal may be.
Gates, along with his supervisor on the campaign, and campaign manager, Paul Manafort, were indicted last year on various charges including money laundering and lying to the FBI. Both are facing decades in prison if convicted.
Gates would become the third defendant to strike a plea deal with Mueller if he does so. Former National Security Adviser to President Trump, Michael Flynn, and former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, both struck plea deals Mueller last year and are now cooperating witnesses.
The White House believes there is little information that Gates could provide to prosecutors that would be harmful to the President, a White House official said.