Saturday, March 24News That Matters

Rick Gates prepares to plead guilty … but what does Mueller get?

Former Trump aide Rick Gates is charged with 12 counts that include lying to the FBI, failing to register as a foreign agent, money laundering, and …

PAUL J. MANAFORT, JR., and RICHARD W. GATES III, together with others, knowingly and intentionally conspired to defraud the United States by impeding, impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful governmental functions of a government agency, namely the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury, and to commit offenses against the United States …

That charge of conspiracy against the United States contains six separate counts. A conviction on all charges would be expected to land Gates behind bars for decades. But over the last few weeks there have been repeated stories about Gates’ wrangling with his defense attorneys and requests for delays in his case. This seems to be leading up to Gates pleading guilty on one or more counts.

“Rick Gates is going to change his plea to guilty,” said a person with direct knowledge of the new developments, adding that the revised plea will be presented in federal court in Washington “within the next few days.”

Among the charges against Gates, the final count is a charge of making false statements. Were Gates to accept a deal that saw him pleading guilty to only that charge, it would having him receiving a similar deal to that of former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. However, that would also leave Gates floating free after receiving several million dollars that came into the country through illegal money laundering, and which Gates failed to report as income to the IRS. That seems … awfully nice.

No matter what kind of deal Gates receives, it can be expected that part of what he delivers to Robert Mueller will consist of Paul Manafort sliced, diced, and ready for delivery to a handy federal facility. Gates and Manafort partnered together on numerous deals, including supporting the Russian-controlled government in Ukraine and the laundering of funds from offshore accounts—all of which was lovingly detailed by Mueller in his charges. 

But that’s the problem. Mueller’s charges against Manafort already seem rock solid. Unless Gates is simply throwing up his arms and pleading to the lot, which seems unlikely, why give him a deal?