Robert Mueller Files New Charges Against Paul Manafort

Former Trump adviser Rick Gates wrote a 'heart-wrenching' letter to his family explaining why he would plead guilty in

Rick Gates, a former top official in President Donald Trump's campaign, is expected to plead guilty Friday to charges brought by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in his investigation of Russia's interference in the 2016 election and cooperate with prosecutors, according to a person familiar with the situation.

With his cooperation, Gates gives Mueller a witness willing to provide information on Manafort about his finances and political consulting work in Ukraine, and also someone who had access at the highest levels of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

Now, ABC News has apparently obtained a letter sent from Gates to family and friends announcing that after long deliberation, he has made a decision to plea guilty and cooperate with Mueller.

No sentencing hearing was set.

CNN first reported that Green was seen at Mueller's offices in Washington, D.C., twice in late January, and the outlet noted that Mueller's team appeared to be using a "softer touch" with Gates compared to Manafort.

The charges to which Gates is pleading guilty don't involve any conduct connected to the Trump campaign.

Gates served as the campaign's deputy chairman and is a close associate of Paul Manafort, the former chairman and a subject of intense scrutiny in the Russian Federation investigation.

"This indictment has nothing to do with the White House or the president", White House adviser Mercedes Schlapp said in a Fox News appearance Friday.

This post has been updated with details from Gates' Friday afternoon appearance in court.

The new charges against Gates and Manafort alleged that more than $75 million flowed through the defendants' offshore accounts and that Manafort laundered over $30 million in undisclosed income with Gates's assistance.

"I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence". A lawyer involved in the report - Alex van der Zwaan - pleaded guilty to lying to investigators earlier this week.

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Manafort said in a statement on Friday that Gates' plea "does not alter my commitment to defend myself against the untrue piled up charges".

Gates has pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy and false statements charges in the special counsel's Russian Federation investigation.

In a statement released after the news of Gates' plea, Manafort continues to maintain his innocence.

That meeting, in mid-March 2013, was attended by Manafort, California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, and former Rep. Vin Weber, who is now a lobbyist with Mercury LLC, according to lobbying disclosures filed previous year with the Justice Department. Neither firm has been charged in the investigation.

The charges don't name the lobbyist or the lawmaker but filings with the Justice Department show Manafort and lobbyist Vin Weber of Mercury Public Affairs met with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., on that date as part of a lobbying campaign on behalf of Ukrainian interests.

Rick Gates, left, leaves the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia with attorney Shanlon Wu.

In an interview with POLITICO previous year, Rohrabacher said the two men, who have known each other for decades, had dinner together at the Capitol Hill Club.

Since then, Ukrainian prosecutors investigating the protests have said Yanukovych ordered security forces to open fire on protesters, and some are looking into whether Manafort had a hand in encouraging Yanukovych.

Asked how he felt while leaving the courthouse after the plea, Gates smiled and said, "Very good". His new lawyer, veteran Washington white-collar attorney Thomas Green, formally took over Thursday.

The Gates plea would come a day after a federal grand jury in Virginia returned a 32-count indictment against him and Manafort accusing them of tax evasion and bank fraud. Gates and Manafort were first indicted in October on 12 counts including money laundering and failure to comply with foreign lobbying disclosure requirements. A spokesman for Mueller did not respond to requests for comment.

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