Rick Gates, a former top Trump campaign aide who has been charged in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, has agreed to plead guilty to fraud charges.
He also intends to testify against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, the Los Angeles Times reported.
What’s going on?
According to the Times, Gates has struck a deal with Mueller where he will plead guilty to fraud-related charges in the coming days and testify against Manafort, presumably in exchange for a lesser sentence.
In fact, the Times reported Gates can expect “a substantial reduction in his sentence” for his full cooperation with the investigation. In the end, he may only spend one to two years in prison.
One of the final “discussion points” of Gates’ deal includes how much of his illegally obtained assets the government will force him to forfeit.
Gates, who was indicted alongside Manafort last October, had originally planned to plead not guilty. It’s not clear why he has changed his mind. The change follows several weeks of intense negotiations between Gates’ lawyer, Thomas Green, and two senior members of Mueller’s investigative team.
Gates served as the deputy campaign manager to Trump’s campaign when Manafort was campaign manager.
Why is this significant?
Gates knows the depth to which Manfort associated with Russians and Ukrainians. His testimony will likely give the government the full scope of Manafort’s crimes and will help bolster the state’s case against him. And with Manafort’s not guilty plea, Gates’ testimony could help the government put Manafort in prison for a long time.
However, sources stressed to the Times that Gates’ testimony would in no way impact President Donald Trump.