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Rick Gates, former Trump campaign aide, expected to plead guilty in Russia case

Rick Gates (YouTube)

Richard W. Gates III, who helped lead President Donald Trump’s campaign after making millions of dollars advising Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin government, is expected to plead guilty on Friday, the latest former Trump aide to admit wrongdoing in the sprawling Russia investigation.

A hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington is scheduled for 2 p.m. Eastern time.

An unsigned document filed in the court record suggests he may plead guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI.

The development comes a day after special counsel Robert S. Mueller III filed a new indictment with 32 charges of tax evasion, bank fraud and other allegations against Gates and his former business partner, Paul Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign manager for three months in 2016, including at the tumultuous Republican National Convention.

Gates, who was Manafort’s deputy on the campaign and continued to serve as a senior adviser through Trump’s inauguration, is expected to testify against Manafort if his case goes to trial. It’s not clear if he also can provide evidence against others who worked on the Trump campaign or in the White House.

Gates and Manafort were charged with a dozen counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering in October, and they pleaded not guilty to those charges.

None of the charges involve Russian meddling in the presidential election, which was the impetus for Mueller’s investigation, but the alleged tax evasion, fraud and conspiracy extended through 2017 and thus overlapped with their work on the Trump campaign, according to the indictment.

Manafort has continued to deny any wrongdoing. In a statement issued Thursday, his spokesman said Manafort is “innocent of the allegations set out in the newly filed indictments and he is confident that he will be acquitted of all charges.”

In the latest indictment, prosecutors painted a detailed picture of how Manafort and Gates used offshore accounts to stash millions of dollars and illegally funneled the money into the United States to purchase real estate and finance luxury lifestyles.

Their income dried up after political unrest forced Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, to flee to Russia in 2014, and the indictment says they turned to fraud to obtain more than $20 million in loans.

The special counsel’s office has proved adept at securing cooperation from top figures in Trump’s orbit.

Former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn pleaded guilty on Dec. 1 to lying to investigators about his communications with a Russian diplomat during the presidential transition. He admitted to discussing sanctions that former President Obama had implemented to punish Moscow for meddling in the campaign.

There have been other guilty pleas as well.

George Papadopoulos, a former campaign foreign policy adviser, pleaded guilty to lying last year. He had falsely denied contacts with Russians who claimed to have “thousands of emails” on Hillary Clinton,

In addition, Alex van der Zwaan, a former lawyer at a prominent law firm who worked on a report on behalf of Ukraine’s pro-Russia government, pleaded guilty on Tuesday. He lied to investigators about his communications with Gates.

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© 2018 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.