losangelesnewstoday.com March 20, 2018

Ex-Trump campaign associates face more charges

24 February 2018, 07:09 | Katrina Lee

Ex-Trump campaign associates face more charges

Ex-Trump campaign associates face more charges

Rick Gates, the business partner of Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, pleaded guilty on Friday to two charges and will begin cooperating with federal prosecutors investigating the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The 32-count indictment filed on Thursday at the federal court in Washington, DC charges Manafort and Gates with laundering more than $30 million in funds they earned from lobbying work in Ukraine, which ended in 2014.

The filing adds allegations of tax evasion and bank fraud and significantly increases the legal jeopardy facing Paul Manafort, who managed Mr Trump's campaign for several months in 2016, and long-time associate Rick Gates.

In the 10 months hence, Mueller has indicted four Trump campaign lieutenants, two other Americans, 13 Russian nationals, and three Russian LLCs - but none of the charges filed directly pertain to collusion.

But the charges Gates ultimately pleaded guilty to on Friday were one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States in relation to not reporting offshore banking accounts, and one count of lying over his work as a foreign agent for Ukraine.

Mueller was appointed in May to investigate potential collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign as well as possible crimes uncovered during the course of the investigation.

It is not clear what Gates could reveal to investigators but he was on the Trump campaign team in June 2016 when Manafort attended a meeting at Trump Tower in NY with senior campaign aides and a Russian lawyer.

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Asked how he felt while leaving the courthouse after the plea, Gates smiled and said, "Very good". The plea was announced on the same day that Mueller's office charged 13 Russians, including a businessman close to Vladimir Putin, in an elaborate plot to interfere in the 2016 USA presidential election. This gives Mueller's special investigation a witness aware of the decisions made at the highest levels of the Trump campaign. It's not clear what else he can provide prosecutors, but Gates continued to serve as a senior adviser to the Trump campaign after Manafort stepped down in August 2016, helped organize Trump's inauguration, and had access to the White House as an outside adviser in the early weeks of the administration.

Paul Manafort said today in a statement: 'Notwithstanding that Rick Gates plead today, I continue to maintain my innocence.

Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty to the charges they face in DC in October.

He had been negotiating a plea deal with Mueller's team, CNN reported, but a source close to Gates told The Daily Caller News Foundation last week that he planned to fight the charges and had no intention of pleading guilty.

"For reasons yet to surface he chose to do otherwise".

George Papadopoulos, who was on the Trump campaign's foreign policy advisory panel, admitted in October 2017 to making false statements to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents about contacts he had with the Russian government in 2016.

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