Pressure mounts in US Russian investigation

Last week’s indictment of Russian nationals was just one step in the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the US elections in 2016. Another move is forecast to unfold shortly:

LA Times: Former Trump aide Richard Gates to plead guilty; agrees to testify against Manafort, sources say

A former top aide to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign will plead guilty to fraud-related charges within days — and has made clear to prosecutors that he would testify against Paul Manafort, the lawyer-lobbyist who once managed the campaign.

The change of heart by Trump’s former deputy campaign manager Richard Gates, who had pleaded not guilty after being indicted in October on charges similar to Manafort’s, was described in interviews by people familiar with the case.

“Rick Gates is going to change his plea to guilty,” said a person with direct knowledge of the new developments, adding that the revised plea will be presented in federal court in Washington “within the next few days.”

Mueller is heading the prosecutions of Gates and Manafort as part of the wide-ranging investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether Trump or his aides committed crimes before, during or since the campaign.

The imminent change of Gates’ plea follows negotiations over the last several weeks between Green and two of Mueller’s prosecutors – senior assistant special counsels Andrew Weissmann and Greg D. Andres.

According to a person familiar with those talks, Gates, a longtime political consultant, can expect “a substantial reduction in his sentence” if he fully cooperates with the investigation. He said Gates is likely to serve about 18 months in prison.

If Gates has negotiated down to 18 months prison he must have faced serious charges with strong evidence against him.

The Oct. 27 indictment showed that prosecutors had amassed substantial documentation to buttress their charges that Manafort and Gates — who were colleagues in political consulting for about a decade — had engaged in a complex series of allegedly illegal transactions rooted in Ukraine. The indictment alleged that both men, who for years were unregistered agents of the Ukrainian government, hid millions of dollars of Ukraine-based payments from U.S. authorities.

According to the indictment, Gates and Manafort “laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts” and took steps to evade related U.S. taxes.

If Manafort maintains his not-guilty plea and fights the charges at a trial, the testimony from Gates could provide Mueller’s team with first-person descriptions of much of the allegedly illegal conduct. Gates’ testimony, said a person familiar with the pending guilty plea, would place a “cherry on top” of the government’s already formidable case against Manafort.

And this will place more pressure on Manafort.

Again this says nothing about possible Trump knowledge or involvement. One possibility is that members of his campaign team colluded with Russians without Trump’s knowledge. There were always going to be risks rapidly assembling a campaign team when many experienced Republican campaigners didn’t want to be involved.

14 Comments

  1. High Flying Duck

     /  February 20, 2018

    These charges sound like they relate to money laundering and financial issues rather than campaign related contacts.
    Not a good look, but still well short of showing any collusion.

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  February 20, 2018

      Don’t fret HFD, Mueller’s investigation will likely continue dropping shoes for a good while yet. It took more than two years for Watergate to unfold.

      The final toll included:
      – one presidential resignation
      – one vice-presidential resignation – although Agnew’s crimes were unrelated to Watergate
      – 40 government officials indicted or jailed
      – H.R. Haldeman and John Erlichman (White House staff), resigned 30 April 1973, subsequently jailed
      – John Dean (White House legal counsel), sacked 30 April 1973, subsequently jailed
      – John Mitchell, Attorney-General and Chairman of the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP), jailed
      – Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy (ex-White House staff), planned the Watergate break-in, both jailed
      – Charles Colson, special counsel to the President, jailed
      – James McCord (Security Director of CREEP), jailed

      And if you recall, it was the obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and criminal cover-up that did for Nixon

      It’s hard to say where Mueller will go next but if he’s been able to uncover that same kind of evidence on collusion or the hacking of the Democratic National Committee servers and Podesta’s emails that he has been able to uncover on these campaign-type activities then he’s got the makings of a millipede shoe drop in the coming year(s).

      • High Flying Duck

         /  February 20, 2018

        If he finds collusion, then Trump can go for a jump and spend his remaining years breaking rocks in the hot sun.
        But so far all that has been shown is that some of the campaign team choices had dodgy pasts.
        And the Democrats were up for a great deal of dirty politics in the election campaign.

        As Hosking said this morning – “Is it too early to say we’ll miss all this when it’s gone…?”

    • David

       /  February 20, 2018

      It will be on mail and wire fraud charges, that’s the catch all,,get everyone charge that tells you there no actual crimes have enough evidence to convict.

  2. Trevors_elbow

     /  February 20, 2018

    Soooo… two guys have done some dodgy business dealings years before working on Trumps campaign…. but the article makes sure the link is made to imply its a linkage from Trump to the Rus….

    Nice… even nicer that its repeated….

    Big whoop de doo….. where is the evidence of collusion between Trump and the Rus… solid incontrovertible evidence? Doesn’t seem to be any after a year of formal investigation plus plenty more time involving DNC related digging….

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  February 20, 2018

    FWIW, Senator Lankford says final Mueller report expected “in the coming days”.

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/02/18/sen_lankford_expecting_muellers_final_report_in_the_coming_days.html

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  February 20, 2018
    • Gezza

       /  February 20, 2018

      Probably is, though. Lotta ifs & maybes in that lot.

      Hope the final Mueller report’s out soon. Getting tired of all the tweets. Prosecutions done & dusted, then onto the Special Prosecutor to investigate Clinton & associates.

      More tweets, of course, but when that’s all done & dusted, at least Trumpy can maybe then go back to just tweeting about how great he is.

  5. artcroft

     /  February 20, 2018

    I thought Trump hired only the best people. These two aren’t even great money launderers. Never mind I’m sure the wall is going well and that Mexicos forwarding the first downpayment for it any day now.

  6. Patzcuaro

     /  February 20, 2018

    Mueller has Trump cornered after indicting Russians for cyber interference in last Presidential election. Would Russians be interfering in US Presidential election without Putin’s knowledge. This contradicts Trumps when he says he believes Putin’s denial of interfering. Trump is starting to look isolated.

    https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5a8a3dfde4b004fc31939016

    • Patzcuaro

       /  February 20, 2018

      Trumps twitter tirade blames everyone but the Russians

  7. David

     /  February 20, 2018

    I wonder when the staff of The Guardian will all be arrested for attempting to influence the 2004 US election?

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/oct/13/uselections2004.usa11

    • Patzcuaro

       /  February 21, 2018

      Look over there.

      I think there is a big difference between someone openly expressing their view on any election and secret underhand attempts to influence the outcome of elections.

  8. High Flying Duck

     /  February 20, 2018

    I posted this in World Watch, but more appropriate here…

    Our good friend and all round “most reliable source” KDC is still pushing the DNC Hack as being an inside job:

    “Dotcom tweeted “Let me assure you, the DNC hack wasn’t even a hack. It was an insider with a memory stick. I know this because I know who did it and why,” adding “Special Counsel Mueller is not interested in my evidence. My lawyers wrote to him twice. He never replied.

    Dotcom’s assertion is backed up by an analysis done last year by a researcher who goes by the name Forensicator, who determined that the DNC files were copied at 22.6 MB/s – a speed virtually impossible to achieve from halfway around the world, much less over a local network – yet a speed typical of file transfers to a memory stick.

    The local transfer theory of course blows the Russian hacking narrative out of the water, lending credibility to the theory that the DNC “hack” was in fact an inside job, potentially implicating late DNC IT staffer, Seth Rich.

    While one could simply write off Dotcom’s claims as an attention seeking stunt, he made several comments and a series of tweets hinting at the upcoming email releases prior to both the WikiLeaks dumps as well as the publication of the hacked DNC emails to a website known as “DCLeaks.”

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-02-18/kim-dotcom-let-me-assure-you-dnc-hack-wasnt-even-hack