Russia probe: Former Trump campaign aide pleads guilty

Elias Hubbard
February 24, 2018

However, Manafort said in a statement issued after Gates' plea deal that he maintained his innocence. Gates initially pleaded not guilty previous year. Van der Zwaan, who worked at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, admitted in Washington's federal court Tuesday to making false statements about his interactions with Gates.

Thursday's indictment was the second round of charges against Gates and Manafort, who were among the first to be charged, as part of a Mueller-led investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election and collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Rick Gates: Gates, a former senior adviser to President Trump's election campaign, pleaded guilty Friday to federal conspiracy and false statements charges, saying he will cooperate in the special counsel's Russian Federation investigation. Manafort, 68, an global political consultant, was accused along with his right-hand man, Rick Gates, of lying to US authorities about their work in Ukraine, laundering millions of dollars, and hiding offshore accounts.

The indictment, filed in Washington federal court by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, said Manafort retained the so-called Hapsburg Group of onetime politicians, to "take positions favorable to Ukraine, including by lobbying the United States".

The 32-count indictment filed in the Eastern District of Virginia includes numerous tax and bank fraud charges.

ABC News reported that a source said it was "gut-wrenching" decision for the former aide who also faced a significant financial burden.

Rick Gates, a former senior adviser to President Donald Trump's campaign, has arrived at a federal courthouse in Washington ahead of an expected guilty plea.

Prosecutors piled on another 32 counts this week, revealing another indictment accusing the two of lying to obtain millions of dollars in bank loans and of laundering more than $30 million through overseas accounts to pay for real estate and luxury goods while evading USA taxes. Manafort was the former Trump campaign chief, and Gates was a former campaign aide. Gates pleaded guilty on Friday afternoon to federal conspiracy and false-statements charges in Washington.

Special counsel Robert Mueller.

A person close to Rick Gates say he is expected to enter the plea as early as Friday.

Mr. Gates' primary concern has been protecting his family, both emotionally and financially, from the prospect of a drawn-out trial, according to a person familiar with his defence strategy who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Prosecutors said they could ask the judge for a reduction in Gates' sentence based on the extent of his cooperation with Mueller's probe.

Both men had pleaded not guilty to those charges at that time but it is known that the pair earned millions from working with Viktor Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president and a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Gates had been potentially facing decades in prison on much more serious charges, including bank fraud and conspiracy to launder money. Those charges are related to money from their lobbying work for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

Mr Gates' plea also comes on the heels of the stunning indictment last week that laid out a broad operation of election meddling by Russian Federation, which began in 2014, and employed fake social media accounts and on-the-ground politicking to promote Trump's campaign, disparage Hillary Clinton and sow division and discord widely among the U.S. electorate.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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