Though his name is much less well-known than that of Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, who was also indicted on Monday by a federal grand jury, is no less important than Manafort as Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues his investigation of the 2016 presidential election.
Gates, who has served as Manafort’s right-hand man since their days working together for Manafort’s political consulting firms Davis Manafort Partners Inc. and DMP International, has connections to both Russia and the Trump administration, both of which could wind up being keys as the Russia probe moves forward.
According to ABC News, Gates gained a major role in the campaign around the time of the 2016 GOP Convention in Cleveland:
“Gates followed Manafort to the Trump campaign in March. Gates took the helm of the campaign’s operations for the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland and was eventually promoted to deputy campaign manager. Gates was also reportedly the man who signed off on Melania Trump’s RNC speech, which appeared to plagiarize parts of Michelle Obama’s speech to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
Although Manafort left the campaign in late August 2016, facing mounting questions about his political consulting in Ukraine, Gates remained.”
After Trump was elected, Gates earned a spot on the inauguration team when he was tapped by real-estate financier Tom Barrack, who named gates Gates to be his top lieutenant in charge of planning for Trump’s swearing-in.
Since Trump’s inauguration, Gates has also served as a top executive at the 501(c)(4) organization America First Policies, aimed at pushing Trump’s agenda. In that capacity, he had access to both President Trump and other members of the administration. No doubt Mueller will be interested to know exactly what Gates has seen and heard since he became associated with Manafort.
But when the Special Counsel investigation began looking into both Manafort and Gates, Gates was booted from America First Policies.
Gates and Manafort are now charged with 12 felony counts, including conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy of money laundering, and failing to disclose work as foreign agents. Those charges could land both men in prison for decades, but legal experts say Mueller will use the indictments as leverage to force Manafort and Gates to cooperate and tell everything they know.
Could other indictments be in the offing this week? Yes, they could. And it’s already clear that Robert Mueller is slowly closing in on Donald Trump and other officials in the White House.
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