WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Rick Gates, a former adviser to Donald Trump‘s 2016 presidential campaign, was expected to plead guilty as soon as Friday in a federal investigation into Russia‘s role in the election, the New York Times reported, a sign that he will likely cooperate in the probe.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing whether Trump‘s campaign colluded with Moscow's alleged meddling, indicted Gates and Trump‘s former campaign manager Paul Manafort in October on counts that include conspiracy to launder money and failing to disclose lobbying work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.
Mueller filed new criminal charges against Gates and Manafort on Thursday, stepping up pressure in a legal battle that started last year.
A plea by Gates could add to pressure on his former business partner Manafort, who maintains his innocence and is preparing for trial, also to seek a plea deal. Such deals involve promises to cooperate with an investigation in exchange for more lenient sentences.
ABC News also reported that Gates was expected to plead guilty, without giving a date. The Times and ABC sourced their reports to unidentified people familiar with Gates' plea agreement.
Gates, a longtime protege of Manafort, was actively involved in a campaign to boost the image and fortunes of Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Kremlin former president of Ukraine. That work brought in $17 million for Manafort's lobbying firm between 2012 and 2014, payments that were not disclosed until last year after Mueller's probe into their business was well underway.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Frances Kerry)