Mueller Time: Guess who just pled guilty and flipped?
If you said “Rick Gates,” you are today’s winner! The Gray Lady:
A former top adviser to Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign indicted by the special counsel was expected to plead guilty as soon as Friday afternoon, according to two people familiar with his plea agreement, a move that signals he is cooperating with the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
The adviser, Rick Gates, is a longtime political consultant who once served as Mr. Trump’s deputy campaign chairman. The plea deal could be a significant development in the investigation — a sign that Mr. Gates plans to offer incriminating information against his longtime associate and the former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, or other members of the Trump campaign in exchange for a lighter punishment.
The deal comes as the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has been raising pressure on Mr. Gates and Mr. Manafort with dozens of new charges of money laundering and bank fraud that were unsealed on Thursday. Mr. Mueller first indicted both men in October, and both pleaded not guilty.
NBC confirms the Times scoop:
Gates would follow Mike Flynn, Trump’s short-tenured national security adviser, and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos in pleading guilty to charges filed by Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to the Trump operation.
Trump has called the investigation a “witch hunt” and insists there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians.
The move will greatly reduce Gates’s sentence, but does not come without risk. It also increases pressure on his ex-boss Manafort, who seems to be unusually resistant to cutting a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
But there may be a not-so-far-fetched reason for that, keeping in mind Manafort is closely tied to some of the planet’s most ruthless and amoral billionaires. Morning Joe Scarborough actually went there this morning:
We recommend you rewind to the beginning and watch the entire segment. Scarborough makes a direct point that has for the most part been brought up obliquely by the American press. It’s not unlikely that Gates will disappear into Witsec, and the same holds true for Manafort, who is facing the very real prospect of spending his remaining years behind bars.
Prosecutors also have secured guilty pleas from:
- Michael Flynn, former national security advisor to Donald J. Trump;
- George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign foreign policy advisor;
- Richard Pinedo, an Internet identity thief; and
- Alex van der Zwaan, a London-based lawyer for Skadden Arps who, unlike the others who have pled guilty, is not cooperating with the Mueller probe.
This ain’t over, people. But you know that already!