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Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates pleads guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI

Former Trump campaign aid Rick Gates appeared in federal court Friday where he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI. He promised to begin cooperating with prosecutors in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Rick Gates, a former top adviser to President Donald Trump's campaign, appeared in federal court Friday where he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI, USA Today reported.

Gates, 45, also promised he would begin cooperating with prosecutors in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

He admitted he conspired with his former business partner Paul Manafort, 68, who served as Trump's campaign manager, to defraud the U.S. by hiding money he earned in Ukraine. Gates also admitted to lying during a meeting with federal agents three weeks ago about a 2013 discussion he had with Manafort and an unidentified member of Congress.

His plea came after prosecutors on Thursday indicted him and Manafort on 32 additional charges. The former business partners were previously charged with the laundering of millions of dollars overseas, hiding money from the Treasury Department and other crimes.

Both men pleaded not guilty to earlier charges last fall.

How long could Gates be in prison?

Gates faces up from 57 to 71 months in prison, U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson said.

He could serve less time depending on the extent of his cooperation, she added.

Gates will remain free until his sentencing.

Gates's lawyer, Thomas Green, declined to comment, saying he would “keep our powder dry,” USA Today reported.

What about Manafort's plea?

Manafort said he has no plans to change his plea.

"Notwithstanding that Rick Gates pled today, I continue to maintain my innocence," Manafort said in a written statement. "I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence. 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."

White House strategic communications director Mercedes Schlapp told Fox News on Friday, USA Today reported, that the charges against Manafort and Gates "have nothing to do with the White House. They have nothing to do with the president."

One last thing…
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