Gates to plead guilty

ABC News: Former Trump aide tells loved ones of plans to plead guilty, cooperate with special counsel

President Donald Trump’s one-time campaign aide Richard Gates has told family and close friends in a letter sent this morning he plans to plead guilty Friday in the special counsel’s criminal case against him, setting up the potential for Gates to become the latest well-informed Trump insider to assist in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential contest, according to sources close to the matter.

In the letter obtained by ABC News, Gates writes to family and friends “despite my initial desire to vigorously defend myself, I have had a change of heart,” Gates explained. “The reality of how long this legal process will likely take, the cost, and the circus-like atmosphere of an anticipated trial are too much. I will better serve my family moving forward by exiting this process.”

Gates is scheduled to appear before a federal judge Friday to face reduced charges of conspiracy against the United States and lying to federal agents, according to a new court filing.

One could assume that the strength of the case against him had a part to play in his decision. It seems unlikely Gates would plead guilty if he was not guilty.

The potential for a guilty plea could dramatically change the dynamics in the investigation, just one day after special counsel Robert Mueller added a raft of new financial and tax charges to the criminal case against Gates and his longtime colleague, Paul Manafort.

It depends on what Gates tells the investigators beyond the charges he faces, in  particular if he provides information about contacts between the trump campaign and Russians intent in interfering in US elections.