Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed conspiracy and false-statement counts against former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, adding a third set of charges just as a person familiar with the matter said that Gates was close to entering a guilty plea.
The document containing the charges is a criminal information, which often precedes a guilty plea. A hearing is set for 2 p.m. on Friday.
While there’s no public filing yet indicating that Gates is working with prosecutors, it’s typical for cooperators to plead guilty to a broad conspiracy charge and then testify about the facts at a subsequent criminal trial. It’s also routine for cooperators to admit to a second, substantive criminal count, which in Gates’s case would be the false statement count.
Gates is charged with new two counts: conspiring between 2006 and 2017 to hide offshore bank accounts and conceal his work as an unregistered foreign agent, and making a false statement to U.S. investigators about a 2013 meeting about Ukraine. It was attended by a member of Congress, a lobbyist and Gates’s longtime business partner, Paul Manafort, who is Trump’s former campaign chairman.
The government accused Gates of lying to Mueller’s office and FBI agents on Feb. 1, the day before the criminal information was filed under seal.
The conduct in the conspiracy charge was outlined in the Oct. 27 indictment of Manafort and Gates, which included money-laundering counts. On Thursday, Mueller unsealed a new indictment charging Manafort and Gates with bank and tax fraud.
Gates, 45, and his legal team have been in active negotiations with Mueller’s team after he was indicted for alleged crimes including money laundering, bank fraud and tax evasion, said the person, who asked not to be identified speaking about confidential discussions.
Should he cooperate, Gates could help Mueller build a stronger case against Manafort, who employed him as a political consultant in Ukraine for a decade. Gates also remained on the Trump campaign after Manafort resigned in August 2016, and he helped plan Trump’s inauguration.
—With assistance from David Voreacos