One of Robert Mueller’s first major offensives as special counsel was to file a 12-count indictment against Paul Manafort, Trump’s one-time campaign manager, and Rick Gates, a Manafort associate who served as an adviser to the campaign. Since that time, it’s been unclear whether Gates would cooperate with Mueller in helping to uncover exactly what happened between Trump and Russia during the 2016 election, or whether he would bunker down for a long legal fight and insist on his innocence. Mueller stepped up the pressure on Thursday by filing more charges against the two. WaPo sums up the case against them as follows:
[Gates] and Manafort are accused of a multiyear scheme to use their income from working for a Ukrainian political party to buy properties, evade taxes and support a lavish lifestyle even after their business connections in Kiev evaporated.
Now, ABC News has apparently obtained a letter sent from Gates to family and friends announcing that after long deliberation, he has decided to plea guilty and cooperate with Mueller. This follows a long week of drama involving several media outlets reporting contradictory facts, but the ABC source would seem to be definitive.
In the letter obtained by ABC News, Gates writes to family and friends “despite my initial desire to vigorously defend myself, I have had a change of heart,” Gates explained. “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. I will better serve my family moving forward by exiting this process.”
“The consequence is the public humiliation, which at this moment seems like a small price to pay for what our children would have to endure otherwise,” Gates said in his letter.
It’s important to note that the charges against Gates and Manafort stem from their lobbying activities, which—as far as we know today—are separate from their work with Trump. Gates, 45, worked in Manafort’s firm starting in 2006, and struck the deal with Mueller sometime mid-week. Initially, he pleaded not guilty to the October charges.