Former Donald Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is nearing a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller, CNN reported Thursday, citing unnamed sources familiar with the case.
Gates is set to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation, CNN said, noting the plea deal negotiations had taken place for roughly a month. Gates was the longtime deputy to Paul Manafort, who served as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman.
Manafort, like Gates, pled not guilty in October to all charges filed against him, including conspiracy to launder money and failing to report on foreign bank and financial accounts. CNN reported that Gates’ cooperation with the investigation would pressure Manafort to do the same.
An unnamed White House official downplayed the news, saying that “[i]f Gates cooperates against Manafort that’s nothing to us” and “They have a hard case to make against Manafort. That’s why Gates might get favorable treatment.”
CNN said Gates had participated in what’s called a “Queen for a Day” interview, in which he would have answered any questions Mueller’s team had about his case “and other potential criminal activity he witnessed,” CNN noted. In such interviews, CNN said, participants are “typically” unlikely to face additional criminal consequences for admissions, as long as they don’t lie.
The outlet also reported that Mueller’s team is preparing to file new, tax-related charges against Gates, according to unnamed people familiar with the probe, which could be used to pressure Gates to cooperate.
Two others indicted on charges in Mueller’s investigation — former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos — are already cooperating with Mueller’s probe.