A former senior official involved in United States President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign on Friday pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the country and lying to investigators inquiring into alleged Russian meddling in the polls, Reuters reported. After pleading guilty, Rick Gates agreed to cooperate with the federal investigation.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, which is looking into the alleged Russian interference in the elections, will also investigate Gates, who was a deputy campaign manager for Trump. Gates is also facing charges of bank fraud and conspiracy to launder money, which could earn him a decades-long prison term, Reuters said.
But the former deputy campaign manager, who travelled with Trump on the campaign trail until after Trump’s victory, now faces only six years in jail, the agency said. Gates could offer incriminating evidence against former Trump campaign chairperson Paul Manafort and other campaign officials in exchange for a lighter sentence, the Washington Post reported.
Gates and Manafort had pleaded not guilty to charges of bank fraud and money laundering in October 2017. On Friday, Gates changed his testimony. He also admitted that he lied to investigators about Manafort’s meeting with a pro-Russian member of the US Congress in 2013, on Ukraine. The US Justice Department had asked Gates and Manafort in 2016 if they had acted as foreign agents in 2013 on behalf of the Ukranian government.
The White House however said on Friday that the charges against Gates and Manafort were unrelated to Trump.
Mueller had on February 17 charged 13 Russian nationals with attempting to interfere in the US elections. The investigators are inquiring into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials to influence the election.