Gates III, who helped lead President Donald Trump's campaign after making millions of dollars advising Ukraine's pro-Kremlin government, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy against the United States and lying to the FBI, the latest former Trump aide to admit wrongdoing in the sprawling Russian Federation investigation.
Gates has pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy and false statements charges in the special counsel's Russian Federation investigation.
Thursday, prosecutors described a "scheme" in which the two longtime business partners allegedly laundered $30 million, failed to pay taxes for nearly 10 years and used real estate they owned to fraudulently secure more than $20 million in loans.
On Friday, Manafort issued a statement saying: "I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence".More news: NYU's Insensitive Black History Month Menu Sparks Outrage
Court documents say Gates hid tens of millions of dollars he earned from lobbying work for Ukraine.
He had written in a letter to family and friends, first obtained by ABC News, that "despite my initial desire to vigorously defend myself, I have had a change of heart". Former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos have already pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about their interactions with Russians and agreed to cooperate. Under the agreement, the former politicians would appear to be analysts but were actually secret lobbyists. "For reasons yet to surface he chose to do otherwise".
The former Trump campaign deputy, wearing a full beard, did not speak as he passed a hallway full of reporters. "I will better serve my family moving forward by exiting this process", he wrote.
"Gates had participated with Manafort in preparing a report that memorialized for Ukraine leadership the pertinent Ukraine discussions that Manafort represented had taken place at the meeting", the new court filing says.
In 2016, Trump hired Manafort to lead his presidential campaign.More news: National Rifle Association Loses Card Deal With Nebraska Bank
Though Manafort was ousted from the Trump campaign, Gates stayed on and had a role in the president's inaugural committee. Manafort insists on his innocence.
Donald Trump's ex-campaign chief Paul Manafort secretly paid a group of former senior European politicians more than two million euros ($2.5 million) to lobby for Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych's government, according to an indictment filed Friday, February 23.
The outcome of not switching his plea, Gates added, would be "public humiliation". As The New York Times pointed out this week, it's unclear exactly what kind of information an insider like Gates would offer Mueller's team, although he was notably "present for the most significant periods of activity of the campaign", including as the team began interacting more and more with users on various social media platforms.
The two men were initially charged in a 12-count indictment in October that accused them of a multimillion-dollar money-laundering conspiracy tied to lobbying work for a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party.
But his power and influence waned once Trump fired Manafort in August 2016 after The Associated Press disclosed how Gates and Manafort covertly directed a Washington lobbying campaign on behalf of Ukrainian interests. "Now you have a witness who can guide the jury, if you will, through all of that evidence to say, 'I was there, I was on the inside, this is what we were doing, this is what this document means, this is what this computer file means.' It makes it very hard to overcome the prosecutor in a case like this".More news: Pakistan Reportedly To Be Put Back On Terror 'Grey List' By June