Mueller drops charges against Rick Gates, court OKs Boston spring break trip

- Februari 27, 2018

Former Donald Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates is quickly discovering that cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller has its advantages.

The lead Russia investigator asked a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia Tuesday to dismiss a series of criminal charges against Gates, including tax and bank fraud, in exchange for his guilty plea and testimony in the wider probe into the 2016 presidential election.

Gates also secured another win on Tuesday when a different judge granted his request to take his children to Boston next week for their spring break — well outside the 110-mile corridor between his home in Richmond and Washington that he’d previously been confined to for his travels.

The additional leniency comes after Gates agreed to a plea deal last Friday with Mueller that stipulates he must cooperate “in any and all matters” that the special counsel’s office decides are “relevant.”

Gates likely can help the government in its prosecution of his longtime business partner Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who is fighting Mueller’s indictments for money laundering, failing to register as an agent of a foreign government, and bank and tax fraud.

Gates is also expected to provide a wider window for Mueller into the Trump campaign, where he worked as deputy chairman under Manafort and later as a liaison to the Republican National Committee.


“He saw everything,” said a former Trump campaign consultant who worked with Gates and Manafort and called him one of the “top five” Trump insiders who Mueller could tap as cooperative government witnesses.

After the election, Gates worked on the Presidential Inauguration Committee and then joined the main Trump political outside organization, America First Policies. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed in October — when Gates was first indicted — that he’d made visits to the White House after the inauguration.

“I know that there was some initial contact, after the president was sworn in, with him at meetings here at the White House, but nothing directly with the president,” she told reporters last fall.

During her Monday press briefing, Sanders said the criminal charges facing Manafort, as well as Gates’ guilty plea, involve “issues that took place long before they were involved with the president.”

But the government’s original charges do note that the two longtime business partners were being accused of crimes, including a complex money laundering scheme, that continued through “at least 2016.” Gates also pleaded guilty to lying to the special counsel during a debriefing on the Russia case earlier this month.

Gates initially pleaded not guilty to Mueller’s charges and had to make repeated requests to leave his home confinement In Richmond to attend holiday functions with his family and other weekend activities, though he didn’t always win approval. His trip to Boston — to run from March 2-8 — was pitched to the court as a chance “to show his children around the Boston area to learn about American history in general, and the Revolutionary War in particular.”

Mueller’s office did not oppose the spring break trip, which Gates formally requested on the first business day after he pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate on the Russia probe.


 

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