Federal prosecutors say former Donald Trump campaign aide Rick Gates should receive probation for his work with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, a major boost for one of the most damaging witnesses against the Trump campaign for Mueller.
In a court filing Tuesday, prosecutors describe how Gates testified against Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Greg Craig, and recounted details about Trump on the campaign trial. They note he has helped them with at least one ongoing investigation– and still could help with unnamed matters.
“Gates has provided significant information contributing to the convictions of Manafort and Stone, and to other investigation(s) that are ongoing,” prosecutors wrote in a memo to federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, DC.
In all, Gates met more than 50 times with prosecutors and investigators at the Justice Department and they’ve used what he’s helped them with on more than 12 search warrants, the prosecutors said. Gates’ own legal team estimated the amount of time he spent giving prosecutors information at more than 500 hours. His own lawyers asked the judge to sentence him to probation and community service, with no fines.
Prosecutors added that Gates would agree to cooperate with prosecutors again in the future, and that the judge could make this part of his sentence. Additional information about Gates’ ongoing cooperation efforts appears to be filed under seal with the federal court.
Gates’ plea deal to two criminal counts put his potential prison sentence at 10 years maximum. But the prosecutors’ commendation of him on Tuesday could help him avoid prison at all, if the judge agrees.
The prosecutors specifically highlighted on Tuesday how Gates had told them and testified at trial about a conversation he overheard between then-candidate Trump and Roger Stone. After the call, Gates testified, Trump led him to believe they should expect more releases from WikiLeaks that could help the campaign. Stone was convicted at the trial for lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering.
“The government believes he has been entirely candid about his and other’s criminality,” prosecutors said.
Pressured not to cooperate, feds say
The prosecutors also said Tuesday that Gates had “received pressure not to cooperate with the government, including assurances of monetary assistance.”
Earlier this month, the Justice Department released to CNN and BuzzFeed a memo that illuminated what Gates had perceived as pressure from Manafort and potentially the White House for him not to plead guilty.
In the memo of Gates’ April 2018 interview with Mueller’s office, Gates recounted how Manafort told him “I’ve covered you at the White House,” that the President’s legal team would “take care of us” and that a legal defense fund was available to help him fight his charges.
Mueller had spoken to Gates about Manafort’s assertions during the investigation of whether Trump dangled pardons as a way to block Mueller.
‘Should be commended for standing up’
Prosecutors more broadly applauded Gates for turning on Manafort and others so quickly, in February 2018, as the Mueller investigators were seeking wide-ranging details about the Trump campaign, Russian interference in the election and Manafort’s ties to Ukraine.
Manafort was convicted at trial for financial crimes and admitted to witness tampering and foreign lobbying violations, among other things. Manafort had become a Mueller cooperator, before lying to him and tanking that deal. He is now serving seven years in prison.
Craig, a former Obama White House counsel who worked with Manafort, was acquitted at a trial regarding his foreign lobbying disclosures.
“He should be commended for standing up to provide information and public testimony against individuals such as Manafort, Craig, and Stone, knowing well that they enjoy support from the upper echelons of American politics and society,” the prosecutors wrote Tuesday.
Gates on Monday also asked the court for probation.
“There is no perfect way to convey to the Court how far Richard Gates has traveled on the proverbial road to redemption,” his attorney wrote in a court filing. He hasn’t been employed since he was charged with dozens of crimes in October 2017 alongside Manafort, and has been seeing a psychologist for more than a year.
During Manafort’s trial, Gates had admitted on the witness stand to a host of transgressions, from embezzling from his boss’ company to having an extra-marital affair.
His defense attorney notes he has held his family together and volunteered with the Red Cross and youth soccer teams.
Gates is set to be sentenced on December 17 by Jackson, who previously sentenced Manafort and oversaw the Craig and Stone trials.