Rick Gates continues to help Mueller investigation, lawyer says

Posted at 12:46 PM, Oct 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-11 14:57:17-04

Rick Gates continues “to this day” to help special counsel’s Robert Mueller office in its investigation into Russians, the Trump campaign and the 2016 election, he said in a court filing Thursday.

The former Donald Trump campaign aide cited the “numerous” times he’s visited the special counsel’s office in recent months as he asked a federal judge in Washington to relax the court-ordered restrictions he’s under as he awaits sentencing.

Gates implored the judge to remove his GPS monitoring bracelet, free him from a nightly curfew and allow him to travel more freely around Virginia and Washington. His recent help to investigators shows he won’t flee, the filing says, adding that Mueller’s office did not take issue with the request.

He has built a “record of continuing cooperation” with prosecutors since he pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and lying to investigators in February, his attorney Tom Green wrote in the filing.

A major part of Gates’ cooperation so far included him testifying at trial in August against his longtime boss and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. In two days of bitter questioning on the witness stand, Gates admitted to embezzling from Manafort and accused him of masterminding a financial scheme. During the trial, the special counsel’s office said some in-court discussion about Gates and the Trump campaign would disclose “new” details about the investigation.

Gates had fought his charges for months after his indictment in October 2017. Since he flipped in February on Manafort — and potentially others connected to the Trump campaign — Gates has become a “model cooperating witness,” his lawyer wrote.

In recent weeks, Gates was implicated in a New York Times story describing how the Trump campaign considered a proposal from an Israeli consulting group to manipulate voters through social media.

Additionally, Mueller’s team gained another cooperator whose past work intersected with Gates and Manafort: lobbyist Sam Patten, who admitted to illegally securing Trump inauguration tickets for a Russian connected to Manafort and to the same military intelligence unit that allegedly hacked Democrats and for a powerful pro-Russia Ukrainian who was close to Manafort.

Mueller’s team has not yet revealed in court filings the extent of its findings, if any, about inaugural money from foreign sources or about attempts by the Trump campaign to manipulate voters or coordinate with the Russian government.

Gates served as Trump’s deputy campaign chairman under Manafort. After Manafort left the Trump campaign in August 2016, Gates stayed on, then played a key role on the inauguration team.

Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy and witness tampering one month ago, following his conviction by a jury for various financial crimes unrelated to the campaign. Since then, he and his lawyers have met with Mueller’s prosecutors at least eight times, according to CNN’s reporting. Manafort is currently jailed and does not have sentencing dates set yet.

Gates’ sentencing date has not yet been scheduled either. Typically, cooperating defendants move toward sentencing as their help to prosecutors nears its end.

The special counsel’s office hasn’t indicated yet whether either man’s cooperation would end soon or when they might head to sentencing.

“Mr. Gates’ conduct in pleading guilty and fulfilling the terms of his cooperation agreement are part of the process he willingly embarked on to effect a course change in his life,” the court filing said Thursday. “He is prepared to receive the court’s sentence on whatever day it is imposed.”

“On a much more personal note, removing the GPS monitor will contribute to the process of healing in the Gates household, which is ongoing,” the filing added.