A former top Trump campaign adviser has pleaded guilty to charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia scandal and has made clear he will now testify against his former boss, and campaign manager Paul Manafort. Rick Gates, along with Manafort was indicted in October on charges of money laundering and lying to the FBI.
Gates reportedly had what’s known as a “Queen for a Day” interview last week in which a defendant answers any questions from prosecutors in a case. Such 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. Experts say that rarely does a defendant admit to crimes then return to fighting the charges.
The charges against Gates and Manafort focus on lobbying activity they performed on behalf of a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party years before their association with Donald Trump. They allege that Gates and Manafort received millions of dollars for that work, then hid the income by laundering it through dozens of shell corporations and off-shore bank accounts, among other vehicles. The duo allegedly spent that money on mortgages, tuition for children’s schooling and home decorating.
Gates is now the third defendant to strike a plea deal with Mueller. 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.