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Trump Campaign Aide to Plead Guilty in Mueller Inquiry and Cooperate 

click to enlarge Rick Gates, a longtime protégé and junior partner of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, in New York in an April 24, 2017 file photo. Gates surrendered to federal authorities on Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, after a person close to the case said the first charges were filed in a special counsel investigation. - DAMON WINTER/THE NEW YORK TIMES
  • Damon Winter/The New York Times
  • Rick Gates, a longtime protégé and junior partner of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, in New York in an April 24, 2017 file photo. Gates surrendered to federal authorities on Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, after a person close to the case said the first charges were filed in a special counsel investigation.

By MARK MAZZETTI and MAGGIE HABERMAN
© 2018 New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON — A former top adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign indicted by the special counsel was expected to plead guilty Friday, a move that signals he is cooperating with the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

The adviser, Rick Gates, is a longtime political consultant who once served as Trump’s deputy campaign chairman. The plea deal could be a significant development in the investigation — a sign that Gates plans to offer incriminating information against his longtime associate and the former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, or other members of the Trump campaign in exchange for a lighter punishment.

The deal comes as the special counsel, Robert Mueller, has been raising pressure on Gates and Manafort with dozens of new charges of money laundering and bank fraud that were unsealed Thursday in Alexandria, Virginia. Mueller first indicted both men in October, and both pleaded not guilty.

Gates is planning to plead guilty to participating in the financial conspiracy with Manafort, court documents released Friday indicate. He is also expected to admit to lying to investigators earlier this month about the details of a 2013 meeting in Washington that Manafort had with a member of Congress and a lobbyist, during which there was a discussion about Ukraine, where the two men worked as political consultants.

A hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington was scheduled for Friday afternoon.

The deal came together over the past few days, according to people familiar with the process. It was not immediately clear what the agreement will mean for the newly filed charges in Virginia; it is unusual for a new indictment to be brought on the eve of a plea change.

In a letter to friends and family, obtained first by ABC News, Gates said there had been false news stories about an impending plea deal over the past two weeks.

But, he added, “Despite my initial desire to vigorously defend myself, I have had a change of heart. The reality of how long this legal process will likely take, the cost, and the circuslike atmosphere of an anticipated trial are too much. I will better serve my family moving forward by exiting this process.”
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