A 33-year-old attorney fired last year by a prominent global law firm became the fourth person to plead guilty in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation, admitting Tuesday that he lied to federal investigators about his contacts with a Trump campaign official.
Numerous allegations in the new counts of bank fraud are described in the original indictment. But a letter Gates wrote to family and friends, reported by ABC News on Friday, explains his decision to plead guilty and suggests the cause of the confusion was Gates' own vacillations.
However, neither the October indictment against Gates and Manafort nor the additional charges included allegations of collusion with Russian Federation as part of the Trump campaign.
Manafort has, to date, denied any and all charges against him - including the allegations Thursday that he and Gates laundered more than $30 million and didn't pay taxes on it for a decade. It says the pair used funds from secret offshore accounts to enjoy a life of luxury.
In a statement following Gates' guilty plea, he said it does not change his commitment to defend himself against what he calls "untrue piled up charges". Russian Federation has denied the accusations of interference.
A former top adviser to President Donald Trump's campaign is expected to plead guilty in the special counsel's Russian Federation probe, according to a person familiar with the decision said Friday.
Mueller, appointed by the Department of Justice previous year, has a broad brief that allows him to look into any wrongdoing uncovered in the course of his investigation.
It is not clear what Gates could reveal to investigators but he was on the Trump campaign team in June 2016 when Manafort attended a meeting at Trump Tower in NY with senior campaign aides and a Russian lawyer. But the special counsel has jurisdiction to pursue certain crimes he finds in the course of his probe and appears to have approval from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to pursue some matters the FBI was investigating before Mueller was named last May.
He stayed on in the campaign even after Manafort resigned in August 2016 amid a controversy over cash payments from Ukraine. In September 2012, he also provided Gates with talking points for use in a public relations campaign.
Further bank fraud charges in the indictment implicate loan misrepresentations at Manafort's Bridgehampton home on Long Island.
Thursday's indictment adds more pressure on Manafort and Gates as their Washington trial approaches this year.
Manafort allegedly needed the money to purchase expensive homes in NY after former Ukrainian president Viktor F. Yanukovych, for whom Manafort was a political consultant and lobbyist, was forced into exile in Russian Federation during the Ukrainian Revolution.
The indictment says the group was managed by a former European chancellor. It comes a day after Gates and Manafort were indicted in Virginia on new charges of tax evasion and bank fraud.
Gates could face 57 to 71 months in prison, but prosecutors could ask for a lower sentence based on his cooperation, Federal Judge Amy Jackson said.
KELLY: All right, so what's going on here because Manafort and Rick Gates were already facing conspiracy and money laundering charges in Washington.
"This indictment has nothing to do with the White House or the president".
A sealed charge in the case this week as well as closed-door discussions in recent weeks had brought speculation that a plea deal for Gates or some other development might be near. "I will better serve my family moving forward by exiting this process".
As part of Friday's plea, Mr Gates admitted to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about a March 2013 meeting in Washington with a U.S. lawmaker in which the topic of Ukraine was discussed while Mr Manafort was present.