Trump-Russia: Ex-campaign aide Rick Gates pleads guilty

Rick GatesImage copyright

Image caption

Rick Gates said he had “had a change of heart” after his initial not-guilty plea

US President Donald Trump’s former deputy campaign manager has admitted charges of conspiracy and lying to investigators in a plea deal.

Rick Gates pledged to co-operate in “any and all matters” with the US special counsel’s inquiry into alleged Russian political meddling in the US.

Mr Gates, 45, had been indicted on more serious criminal counts, including bank fraud and money laundering.

He and ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort faced new charges on Thursday.

There are no criminal allegations that either man colluded with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, which is the main thrust of the Department of Justice investigation.

Mr Trump has said there was no collusion. Moscow has rejected US intelligence claims of interference.

What happened in court?

As part of Friday’s plea, Mr Gates admitted to lying to the FBI about a March 2013 meeting in Washington with a US lawmaker in which the topic of Ukraine was discussed while Mr Manafort was present.

When asked by the FBI, Mr Gates claimed that Ukraine was not discussed, and that he was not preparing a report for Ukraine’s leadership, according to the indictment.

Sentencing guidelines for him suggest a prison term of between 57 and 71 months.

He could have faced decades in prison under the more serious charges.

Special counsel Robert Mueller may consider petitioning the court for a reduced sentence depending on how much Mr Gates co-operates.

Mr Gates filed a motion requesting permission to take his children to Massachusetts during their spring break from school.

“The purpose of this trip is for Mr Gates to show his children around the Boston area to learn about American history in general, and the Revolutionary War in particular,” his motion requests.

What do Gates and Manafort say?

Mr Manafort – who resigned as Trump campaign chairman in August 2016 after five months amid questions over his business dealings – maintains his innocence.

“I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence,” he said in a statement on Friday.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionManafort’s indictment: Where did all the money go?

“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.”

Mr Manafort has worked on several Republican presidential campaigns, beginning with Gerald Ford’s in 1976.

In a letter to family and friends, Mr Gates said he had “had a change of heart” after his initial not-guilty plea, according to ABC News.

He reportedly said he was ready to accept “public humiliation” to avoid inflicting prolonged pain on his children.

“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,” he reportedly wrote.

“I will better serve my family moving forward by exiting this process.”

What were the charges?

Mr Mueller’s team alleged in a 32-count indictment on Thursday that Mr Gates and Mr Manafort concealed more than $30m of income from US tax authorities.

Mr Gates was accused of hiding more than $3m of income and using the cash to pay for his mortgage, children’s tuition and re-decorating his Virginia home.

The court filing charged the pair with a scheme to defraud the US by making false representations to banks and other financial institutions between 2008-17.

Both men pleaded not guilty in October when they were first indicted on charges of laundering $75m through an offshore account.

They were also accused of illegally lobbying for a foreign government, Ukraine, without first registering in that capacity with the US government.

How many people has Mueller charged?

Nineteen people – including Mr Manafort and Mr Gates – have been indicted by the special counsel.

Michael Flynn, a former US national security adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI over meetings he had with the Russian Ambassador, Sergei Kislyak.

George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser, admitted lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians.

Last week, 13 Russians were charged with tampering in the 2016 US election and a California man, Richard Pinedo, admitted an identity theft charge.

This week a London-based lawyer, Alex van der Zwaan, pleaded guilty in court to making false statements when questioned about his work for Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *