Remember Rick Gates?
The Trump campaign factotum and longtime GOP political consultant buddy of Paul Manafort’s is back, and he’s flipped.
But not in the same way he flipped in February 2018, when he began providing what the Mueller investigation described as “extraordinary assistance” that earned him a sentence of 45 days behind bars after prosecutors asked for no jail time. Rather, Gates is publicly pleading for a pardon, three weeks out from the November presidential election.
He’s also reportedly offering up his services to help smear Hunter Biden.
Rick Gates, who went to prison as part of a deal that included testifying to Mueller about dirty finances in Ukraine he was mixed up with, is now going to do an event today where he says he'll reveal new evidence he has from Ukraine about Hunter Biden
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) October 15, 2020
It’s quite a departure for Gates.
His decision in February 2018 to become a cooperating witness in the Mueller investigation was seen as a turning point for the probe, in part because it offered the special counsel an inside look at the Trump campaign from someone who was there through Election Day and because it ratcheted up the pressure on Gates’s longtime boss, Manafort. Gates also helped run President Trump’s 2017 inauguration celebration, another target of federal investigations.
Manafort released a statement at the time slamming Gates, saying that he “had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence.”
“For reasons yet to surface he chose to do otherwise,” Manafort added.
Gates went on to damage Manafort at trial, providing direct testimony that helped secure his conviction. Manafort’s attorneys attempted to damage his credibility, which led in part to Gates admitting at one point under questioning that he had embezzled money from Manafort and the inaugural committee.
Gates himself, via his attorney Tom Green, said at sentencing that he should be shown lenience because he helped with three congressional investigations and because “his cooperation likely represents the most extensive undertaking by any cooperating defendant.”
Gates decided to cooperate in the Mueller investigation under direct pressure from Manafort not to. According to the Mueller report, Manafort told Gates that Trump was “going to take care of us” via a pardon.
Such clemency has yet to be extended to Trump’s former campaign chairman, who is now under home confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Gates is really milking it. He used a Wednesday night appearance on MSNBC to openly plead for a pardon from President Trump saying that, “I think everybody should have an opportunity where the president says ‘this is not right, this is not fair,’ and yeah, ultimately he pardons all of us.”
Gates said that partly in the context of a tour to promote his new book Wicked Game: An Insider’s Story on How Trump Won, Mueller Failed, and America Lost. That book, if you didn’t get it from the title, posits that the Mueller probe was a coercive exercise and pseudo-coup targeting President Trump.
If Gates really believes that, fine.
But it doesn’t answer the nagging questions around his own participation, including his testimony in the trial of a Trump ally who did receive a commutation earlier this year: GOP operative Roger Stone. As part of Stone’s trial, Gates described less than a year ago a July 2016 phone call between Stone and President Trump in which the pair appeared to discuss Wikileaks.
On that call, President Trump suggested that “more information would be coming” from Wikileaks, Gates testified.
Both Stone and a Manafort spokesman declined to comment.