Gates Close to Plea Deal with Special Counsel

Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is close to a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, sending the message that he is willing to cooperate in the probe, sources said.

Gates has been in plea negotiations with the special counsel’s office for almost a month and has already spoken to them regarding his case, in an interview known as “Queen for a Day.” In such an interview a defendant must provide answers to any questions the prosecutor’s team asks, not excluding those pertaining to his/her own case and other potential criminal activity witnessed, CNN reports. The defendant would face little additional consequences unless he/she lies.

“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.

The former campaign adviser’s cooperation could help Mueller in building a stronger case against President Donald Trump or key members of his team. When the plea deal is finalized, Gates will become the third cooperator in Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

A White House official maintained that Gates’s cooperation does not pose a risk to President Trump, saying that “there’d be no anxiety here.”

Meanwhile, sources familiar with the investigation said the special counsel’s investigators are planning to file new charges against Gates that are tax-related, The Hill reports. Additional charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort are also being prepared, it added.

Gates’s plea deal could be announced within the next week, considering that he has asked for an extension until Wednesday to discuss his in-flux legal representation. The threat of new charges, CNN writes, could put pressure on Gates to cooperate with investigators. With his current set of eight charges, Gates could face 10 or more years in prison if found guilty.

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