Trump aide Rick Gates pleads guilty to conspiracy and lying in Russia probe

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Trump aide Rick Gates pleads guilty to conspiracy and lying in Russia probe

New charges – and a new guilty plea – in the U.S.-Russia investigation. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, is accused of making secret payoffs to European politicians.

That newest allegation comes as his longtime business associate pleads guilty to conspiracy and lying.

CGTN’S Toby Muse has more.

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates pleaded guilty to charges of federal conspiracy and making false statements, agreeing to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Gates is facing up to nearly six years in prison as part of this deal, although that could be reduced if he cooperates with the investigation. This gives Mueller’s special investigation a witness aware of the decisions made at the highest levels of the Trump campaign.

Gates’ testimony may also be used by Mueller to further pressure Paul Manafort–Gates’ former partner and Trump’s ex- campaign chair. Prosecutors have charged Manafort tax evasion, money laundering and links to Eastern European oligarchs. Manafort insists on his innocence.

Other high-profile people linked to Trump’s campaign known to be cooperating with the Russia investigation include former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.  President Trump did not address the latest developments but in the past he has sought to distance himself from Gates and Manafort. 

Last October, Trump emphasized the charges against the pair did not imply any collusion and took place before his presidential campaign run.

In a tweet Trump said:”The Fake News is working overtime  as Paul Manafort’s lawyer said, there was “no collusion” and events mentioned  took place long before  he came to the campaign.”

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.”

Manafort’s troubles, however, only seem to be deepening. A federal grand jury issued another indictment Friday afternoon, alleging he organized a number of senior European politicians to help Ukraine and more lobbying within the U.S.