Ex-Trump campaign aide Rick Gates pleads guilty in Russia probe

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A former top adviser to President Donald Trump's campaign is expected to plead guilty in the special counsel's Russian Federation probe, a person familiar with the decision said Friday.

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed conspiracy and false-statement counts against former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates as a person familiar with the matter said he is poised to plead guilty.

Richard Gates arrives at D.C. federal court on Friday, where he pled guilty to charges brought under Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the 2016 presidential election. Those charges are significantly less than what was in the earlier indictments filed against Gates, suggesting that it is a precursor to Gates pleading guilty in an agreement with Mueller.

The new charges against Gates and Manafort alleged that more than $75 million flowed through the defendants' offshore accounts and that Manafort laundered over $30 million in undisclosed income with Gates's assistance. The new case against Manafort and Gates, filed in Virginia, remained mostly under seal on Friday morning.

Gates had access at the highest levels of the campaign at the same time that Manafort, Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner met with a team of Russians in Trump Tower in June 2016.

According to court documents, Manafort and Gates failed to register as foreign agents while they were working for Yanukovych, as required.

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

But his plea does newly reveal that Gates spoke with the Federal Bureau of Investigation earlier this month and lied during the interview. Gates then reportedly continued to work in a liaison role between the campaign and the Republican National Committee, although precisely what he did in that capacity is unclear.

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Gates spent much of his career at Manafort's side.

In a letter obtained by ABC News Friday morning, before Gates' court appearance, he told family and close friends that his "initial desire" was to "vigorously defend myself" that he had "had a change of heart". "I will better serve my family moving forward by exiting this process", he wrote.

"This indictment has nothing to do with the White House or the president", White House adviser Mercedes Schlapp said in a Fox News appearance Friday.

Prosecutors are trying to pressure Manafort to speak with prosecutors about what he knows, particularly about the campaign.

The new criminal information against Gates states that he lied to investigators on February 1, telling authorities that there were no discussions of Ukrainian affairs during a March 2013 meeting between Manafort, another unnamed lobbyist, and an unnamed member of Congress. According to court documents, Gates lied to the special counsel and the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Feb 1 about a meeting that took place in March 2013 attended by Manafort, a "senior lobbyist" who is unnamed and a member of Congress who is unnamed.

In the October indictment, the special counsel alleged that Manafort and Gates laundered money for almost a decade through scores of USA and foreign corporations and accounts, and gave false statements to the Justice Department and others when asked about their work on behalf of a foreign entity.

On the same day Gates allegedly lied to the FBI, Gates' entire defense team moved to withdraw from the case.

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