Prime Only Members-Only Article
REPORTER'S SUM-UP: RUSSIA PROBE #3

Sum-Up: Mueller Finally Flips Rick Gates

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, special counsel on the Russian investigation, leaves following a meeting with members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on June 21, 2017. / A... Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, special counsel on the Russian investigation, leaves following a meeting with members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on June 21, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images) MORE LESS
|
February 23, 2018 5:47 p.m.

Former Trump campaign and transition adviser Rick Gates is officially Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s latest cooperating witness. On Friday, he announced he’d had a “change of heart” about the prospects of a drawn-out court battle and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the U.S. and another of making false statements to federal authorities.

Contrary to speculation, that move did not prompt former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to “alter his commitment” to defending his innocence, as Manafort said in a statement. Mueller filed a new set of charges against Manafort in Virginia this week and a superseding indictment against him in Washington, D.C. on Friday. Prosecutors allege that Manfort and Gates hid tens of millions of dollars made from lobbying work they did in Ukraine, failing to pay taxes and to disclose their work for a foreign government.

We learned this week that, as part of this work, Manafort reportedly commissioned white-shoe law firm Skadden, Arps in 2012 to write a report justifying the conviction of a Ukrainian politician who was an opponent of Manafort’s client. In a surprise development, Alex van der Zwaan, a former lawyer for Skadden, pleaded guilty to lying to Mueller’s team about his conversations with Gates on Tuesday.

Another tidbit on the Mueller front: Gates admitted that his most recent lie to the FBI and Special Counsel came on Feb 1. According to his plea deal, he falsely said that he did not know that Ukraine was discussed in a March 2013 meeting between Manafort and two individuals that Foreign Agents Registration Act filings suggest were pro-Russia Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and former-congressman-turned-lobbyist Vin Weber.

President Trump spent the week lashing out at Barack Obama, who he claimed had failed to take sufficient action to safeguard against Russian meddling. He also took aim at the media, tweeting that MSNBC and CNN were “scammed” because they covered anti-Trump rallies that, Mueller revealed last week, were orchestrated by Russians working for the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency (IRA). Most of the Russians’ influence operation was focused on helping Trump, according to Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russians affiliated with the IRA.

Prime Only Members-Only Article
To access more exclusive analysis and reporting from TPM’s award-winning staff along with:
The Hive Member Forum
Members-Only Newsletter
Exclusive RSS Feeds
Commenting
View All Options
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer:
SPECIAL DEAL FOR PAST TPM MEMBERS
40% OFF AN ANNUAL PRIME MEMBERSHIP
REJOIN FOR JUST $30