Trump-Russia: Ex-campaign aide Rick Gates pleads guilty

Trump-Russia: Ex-campaign aide Rick Gates pleads guilty
From BBC - February 23, 2018

US President Donald Trump's former deputy campaign manager has admitted charges of conspiracy and lying to investigators in a plea deal.

Rick Gates pledged to co-operate in "any and all matters" with the US special counsel's inquiry into alleged Russian political meddling in the US.

Mr Gates, 45, had been indicted on more serious criminal counts, including bank fraud and money laundering.

He and ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort faced new charges on Thursday.

There are no criminal allegations that either man colluded with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, which is the main thrust of the Department of Justice investigation.

Mr Trump has said there was no collusion. Moscow has rejected US intelligence claims of interference.

What happened in court?

As part of Friday's plea, Mr Gates admitted to lying to the FBI about a March 2013 meeting in Washington with a US lawmaker in which the topic of Ukraine was discussed while Mr Manafort was present.

When asked by the FBI, Mr Gates falsely claimed Ukraine was not discussed, according to the indictment.

Sentencing guidelines for him suggest a prison term of between 57 and 71 months.

He could have faced decades in prison under the more serious charges.

Special counsel Robert Mueller may consider petitioning the court for a reduced sentence depending on how much Mr Gates co-operates.

Mr Gates filed a motion requesting permission to take his children to Massachusetts during their spring break from school.

"The purpose of this trip is for Mr Gates to show his children around the Boston area to learn about American history in general, and the Revolutionary War in particular," his motion requests.

What do Gates and Manafort say?

Mr Manafort - who resigned as Trump campaign chairman in August 2016 after five months amid questions over his business dealings - maintains his innocence.

"I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence," he said in a statement on Friday.

"For reasons yet to surface he chose to do otherwise.

What were the charges?

How many people has Mueller charged?


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