Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is finalizing a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, indicating he’s poised to cooperate in the investigation, according to sources familiar with the case.
Gates has already spoken to Mueller’s team about his case and has been in plea negotiations for about a month. He’s had what criminal lawyers call a “Queen for a Day” interview, in which a defendant answers any questions from the prosecutors’ team, including about his own case and other potential criminal activity he witnessed.
Gates’ cooperation could be another building block for Mueller in a possible case against President Donald Trump or key members of his team.
Once a plea deal is in place, Gates would become the third known cooperator in Mueller’s sprawling probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. It would also increase the pressure to cooperate on Gates’ co-defendant Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, who has pleaded not guilty to Mueller’s indictment and is preparing for a trial on alleged financial crimes unrelated to the campaign. Gates pleaded not guilty on October 30 alongside Manafort.
“Nobody (who’s charged) goes in to provide incriminating information to the government unless it’s part of plea negotiations,” said a criminal defense attorney who represents a witness in the case. In a Queen for a Day interview, a defendant can typically admit to crimes with little additional consequences, unless he or she lies.
To infer from these plea deals that there’s even the slightest shred of evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 elections would be the very worst sort of McCarthyism. Of course, I support a full investigation…into why Democrats are using their immense power as the opposition party to force Trump to ramp up the rate of drone strikes, despite his clear dovish preferences.