Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is expected to plead guilty Friday to charges of conspiracy and making false statements to law enforcement agents, an indication that the former aide may now be cooperating in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
The 45-year-old Gates, a longtime associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, has a plea hearing set for Friday afternoon.
A superseding criminal complaint says Gates is charged with conspiracy against the United States between 2006 and 2017.
Gates is also accused of making a false statement Feb. 1 to the Special Counsel’s Office and the FBI about a March 2013 meeting between Manafort, a lobbyist and a member of Congress.
According to the complaint, Gates and Manafort worked as unregistered agents of the government of Ukraine, generating tens of millions of dollars in income.
The White House on Friday distanced itself from Gates.
“This indictment has nothing to do with the White House or the president,” deputy White House communications director Mercedes Schlapp said Friday on Fox News. “As you know, we have been cooperative with the special counsel. And as we continue to see, there’s no evidence of collusion, no evidence of wrongdoing. “
Prosecutors accuse Gates and Manafort of hiding payments from Ukraine by laundering money through “scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts.”
Millions were funnelled into foreign companies and bank accounts in Cyprus, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines and the Seychelles, the complaint says. But the duo falsely claimed they had no foreign bank accounts, prosecutors said.
The complaint says Gates and Manafort were required under the law to report their work for foreign governments but did not do so.
Prosecutors also accuse Gates and Manafort of responding with a “series of false and misleading statements” when the Department of Justice asked about their activities in 2016.
Manafort used his hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States, without paying taxes on that income, the complaint says. Gates is also accused of using money from offshore accounts to pay for personal expenses, including his mortgage, children’s tuition and interior decorating of his Virginia residence.
Gates transferred more than $3 million from offshore accounts to other accounts under his control, according to the complaint.
It says more than $75 million flowed through Gates and Manafort’s offshore accounts.
It would mark the fifth publicly known guilty plea in the special counsel probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 campaign.
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. That was the second round of charges against the two men.
The plea also comes quickly on the heels of a stunning indictment last week that laid out a broad operation of election meddling by Russia, which began in 2014, and employed fake social media accounts and on-the-ground politicking to promote the campaign of Donald Trump, disparage Hillary Clinton and sow division and discord widely among the U.S. electorate.
Gates initially pleaded not guilty and has been facing up to 12.5 years in jail — based on a 12-count indictment handed up in October accusing him and Manafort of acting as unregistered foreign agents and conspiring to launder millions of dollars they earned while working on behalf of a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party.
Fox News’ Jake Gibson and Catherine Herridge and The Associated Press contributed to this report.