When Paul Manafort was indicted on a dozen charges, his deputy Rick Gates experienced the same set of charges. Gates has seemingly gone back and forth on pleading guilty and cooperating with Robert Mueller’s investigation, planning to do so early this week, before firing his lawyer and hiring a trial lawyer yesterday. Today, however, he seems to have changed his tune yet again.
Reports are coming in that Gates could plead guilty as soon as this afternoon. Gates and Manafort have been indicted on 44 different charges, ranging from money laundering to tax fraud to attempting to cover up their crimes, and Gates appears to think his family wouldn’t be able to deal with the fallout of a long, messy trial. ABC News obtained a letter from Gates to family and friends laying out his reasoning:
…despite my initial desire to vigorously defend myself, I have had a change of heart… The reality of how long this legal process will likely take, the cost, and the circus-like atmosphere of an anticipated trial are too much. I will better serve my family moving forward by exiting this process….The consequence is the public humiliation, which at this moment seems like a small price to pay for what our children would have to endure otherwise…
It’s worth remembering that Gates and Manafort have been indicted for crimes connected to their work with the regime of former Ukrainian prime minister Viktor Yanukovych. The Trump administration and campaign are not mentioned in any meaningful sense in their indictments. However, the latest set of charges includes crimes allegedly committed by them up to January 2017. That raises the question of what crimes they were committing while also working for the Trump campaign, who in the campaigh might have known, and most importantly, who might have benefited. It will also mark the third guilty plea in the investigation, adding Gates’ cooperation to that of Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos.