- By Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Rick Gates, a former aide in President Donald Trump's campaign, pleaded guilty to making false statements and conspiring against the United States on Friday, making him the fifth person to enter a guilty plea in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
A court filing unsealed Friday and obtained by Politico showed Gates planned to plead guilty to conspiring to defraud the U.S. by hiding millions of dollars worth of payments that he received for work he did on behalf of the government of Ukraine. He also pleaded guilty to lying earlier this month about a March 2013 meeting with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, a senior lobbyist for an unidentified company and an unidentified member of Congress.
Gates is expected to be required to cooperate with Mueller in the case against Manafort as part of the plea deal, Politico reported.
Gates and Manafort were indicted in October on a dozen charges connected to consulting work they did in Ukraine. In the 31-page indictment, federal prosecutors accused Manafort and Gates of conspiring against the United States, conspiring to launder money and working as unregistered foreign agents.
"They were required by law to report to the United States their work and fees," authorities said in the court records unsealed Friday. "Manafort and Gates did not do so. Instead, when the Department of Justice sent inquiries to Manafort and Gates in 2016 about their activities, Manafort and Gates responded with a series of false and misleading statements."
Both men pleaded not guilty last year. Manafort has not changed his plea.
In a statement obtained by the New York Times, Manafort said he had no plans to change his plea.
"I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence," Manafort said. "For reasons yet to surface, he chose to do otherwise. This does not alter my commitment to defend myself against the untrue, piled-up charges contained in the indictments against me."
Gates' scheduled guilty plea comes a day after a federal grand jury in Virginia returned an indictment against him and former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, accusing them of tax evasion and bank fraud. It comes two days after lawyer Alex Van Der Zwaan pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in Mueller's investigation about, among other things, his last contact with Gates.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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