Friday, Donald Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates, pleaded guilty to financial fraud and lying to investors, in a deal that called for Gates to assist authorities with their ongoing investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 Presidential Election. That election saw Trump lose the popular vote and ultimately win the Electoral College vote to become the 45th President of the United States. Last week, Trump blamed the inquiry, and the FBI’s focus on his alleged collusion with Russia, for the agency's inability to prevent a mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School.
Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign - there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018
Gates was initially indicted in October 2017 and pleaded not guilty. However, Friday found Gates changing course and presumably offering to cooperate with authorities in exchange for a lighter sentence. Gates is currently facing up to six years in prison. As it relates to Trump, Mark Mazzetti and Maggie Haberman of the New York Times outlined how Gates’ decision may be a move to indict one of his superiors, and ultimately the big orange nucleus himself.
“The plea agreement is further evidence that the Trump campaign attracted a cast of advisors who overstepped legal and ethical boundaries,” Haberman and Mazzetti wrote. “Mr. Gates was present for the most significant periods of the campaign, as Mr. Trump began forging policy positions and his digital cooperation engaged with millions of voters on social media platforms such as Facebook.”
Gates admitted to previously lying to prosecutors while under oath, about a 2013 meeting Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had with a person described as a “pro-Russian member of Congress.” The 37-page court filing made public when Gates and Manafort were both indicted in October, accused Gates of pocketing tens of millions of dollars as a result of lobbying efforts in the Ukraine. The documents also accuse Gates and Manafort of laundering some $30 million in money stashed in offshore accounts.
None of this directly answers the central question of if Trump coordinated with the Russian government to disrupt the 2016 Presidential Election, but it connects several dots. Gates is now the fifth person to plead guilty as a part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Rick Gates is now the 5th person who has plead guilty in the Mueller probe:— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 23, 2018
• Van Der Zwann
Gates is the 3rd member of the Trump campaign who has plead guilty.
(THREAD) This thread includes all you need to know—including key context others aren't reporting—about today's breaking news: Rick Gates' guilty plea.— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) February 23, 2018
This is the third guilty plea by a major Trump campaign figure—putting Mueller on Trump's doorstep. Hope you'll read and share. pic.twitter.com/0gvwF4OkoI
Some reasons why the guilty plea by Rick Gates is a big deal:— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) February 23, 2018
-He was the Deputy Campaign Manager for @realDonaldTrump
-He stayed on the campaign even after Manafort left
-His guilty plea suggests Manafort is guilty
-His guilty plea puts significant pressure on Manafort to flip https://t.co/6U9DzlZEN9
Manafort maintains his innocence, but many political commentators expect Gates to spill some proverbial tea on his former boss, and possibly implicate Trump.