Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates on Friday pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and making false statements.
The charges were filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller but are unrelated to the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller has jurisdiction to pursue other crimes uncovered during the probe, with the charges against Gates related to his lobbying work for a pro-Russia party in Ukraine.
A report from Politico said the plea deal is expected to require Gates to cooperate with Mueller’s prosecution of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
The guilty plea was reportedly being negotiated for weeks but comes a day after Mueller filed several new charges against Manafort and Gates.
The 32-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Virginia on Thursday accused Manafort and Gates of tax evasion and bank fraud.
In a letter obtained by CNN, Gates said he decided to plead guilty in order to protect his family, despite an initial desire to vigorously defend himself.
“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,” Gates wrote. “I will better serve my family moving forward by exiting this process.”
Gates is the third associate of President Donald Trump to make a deal with Mueller, joining former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.
(Photo: Max Goldberg)