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From VOA:
Manafort, Gates Choose Divergent Paths in Response to Mueller Probe
Last Updated: February 23, 2018 9:16 PM, by Masood Farivar

Under growing legal pressure from special counsel Robert Mueller, former Trump campaign aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates took divergent paths Friday, with Gates pleading guilty to two felony counts and Manafort facing new charges in the Russia probe.

Gates, 45, appeared in federal court in Washington to enter a plea of guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of lying to FBI and special counsel investigators as recently as Feb. 1 while he was negotiating a plea agreement with Mueller’s office.

As part of his plea deal, Gates agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s probe into whether the Trump election campaign colluded with Russia. He could potentially testify against Manafort as well. In return, prosecutors agreed to drop all other charges brought against Gates in two indictments handed down in recent months.

The guilty plea came a day after a grand jury handed down a new indictment against Gates and Manafort, escalating the pressure on the two men.

But while Gates cut a deal with Mueller’s office, Trump’s former campaign chairman, Manafort, 68, remained defiant, even as Mueller announced new charges against him.

Manafort indictment

In a four-count superseding indictment disclosed shortly after Gates pleaded guilty, prosecutors accused Manafort of secretly paying former European Union officials to lobby members of the U.S. Congress on behalf of Ukraine.

In a statement released Friday, Manafort said he had no plans to follow Gates’ lead and plead guilty.

“I continue to maintain my innocence,” he said.

“I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence,” Manafort added in his statement. “For reasons yet to surface, he chose to do otherwise.”

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. Before his plea, Gates faced decades in prison over a raft of charges brought by Mueller.

Gates is the third former Trump campaign associate to plead guilty to criminal charges and agree to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation into whether there was collusion between the Trump team and Russia during the 2016 election.

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos last year pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about their interactions with Russian officials.

Meanwhile, Mueller’s office filed a superseding indictment against Manafort, charging him with paying former European politicians to lobby in the United States on behalf of a pro-Russia political faction in Ukraine.

2017 indictment
Manafort and Gates were initially charged in a 12-count indictment in October in connection with a multimillion-dollar money laundering conspiracy tied to their political work in Ukraine. They also were accused of failing to register as agents of a foreign government.

Manafort headed the Trump campaign from June to August 2016. Gates was brought into the campaign by Manafort and stayed on after Manafort was fired a few months later following revelations about his Russian connections….

Last week, Muller’s office announced charges against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for conspiring to disrupt the U.S. elections and tilt it in favor of the real estate tycoon. The indictment, however, did not allege collusion on the part of the Trump campaign“. https://www.voanews.com/a/reports-say-former-trump-campaign-associate-to-plead-guilty-in-russia-probe-/4267843.html. The original VOA article alleged that this is unrelated to Trump campaign collusion, when in fact they do not know that to be true and it appears that it may well be related. The original article alleges: “The charges against Gates and Manafort are not related to a key question Mueller has been investigating since his appointment last May — whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.” It actually appears possibly or even probably related. This is a lot deeper than explained in the articles but for expediency we are posting these articles. The possibly false statement was replaced with “….”

Mueller documents(More complete than justice web site): https://www.justsecurity.org/46583/unsealed-documents-special-counsel-mueller-investigation/

From RFERL: https://www.rferl.org/a/us-russia-probe-trump-aide-gates-pleads-guilty/29059524.htmlFormer Trump Campaign Chief Hit With New Charges As Deputy Pleads Guilty Last Updated: February 24, 2018 00:05 GMT, by Mike Eckel

The U.S. special counsel hit President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager with new conspiracy and other charges, including allegations that he set up a secret lobbying campaign involving former senior European politicians.

The new indictment against Paul Manafort was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington February 23, just hours after Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates, pleaded guilty to related charges.

The flurry of filings followed an indictment a day earlier against the two men, and a related guilty plea by a London-based lawyer earlier in the week — all indications that Mueller’s investigation is quickening its pace and stepping up pressure to secure cooperation with the probe.

Mueller’s investigation of Manafort and Gates has largely focused on the lobbying they did for a Russian-aligned Ukrainian political party, as well as various offshore companies and bank transfers that, prosecutors allege, were hidden from U.S. authorities.

In the new document, Mueller charged that Manafort secretly enlisted “former senior European politicians” in 2012 and 2013 to lobby on behalf of the government of then-President Viktor Yanukovych, who was leader of Ukraine’s Party of the Regions until he fled the country in February 2014.

The former politicians, who are not identified in the indictment, were paid more than 2 million euros for their work. They did not disclose they were being paid for lobbying, Mueller’s office charged.

“The plan was for the former politicians, informally called the ‘Hapsburg group,’ to appear to be providing their independent assessments of government of Ukraine actions, when in fact they were paid lobbyists for Ukraine,” the indictment stated.

The group was managed by a “former European chancellor,” the indictment said.
Manafort has repeatedly maintained his innocence.

Earlier on February 23, Gates appeared in federal court in Washington, where he entered a guilty plea to charges of conspiracy and lying to a federal law enforcement agent. Previously, he too had denied the charges.

Gates’ change of heart indicated that he plans to cooperate with Mueller’s team as they pursue the core of their mandate: investigating interactions between Trump associates and Russian officials, as well as alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

During his court hearing, prosecutors said they would recommend up to 71 months in prison for Gates, but that could be reduced based on his cooperation.

After Gates entered his plea, a Manafort spokesman issued a statement, repeating Manafort’s position and criticizing Gates.

“I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence,” he said. “For reasons yet to surface he chose to do otherwise.”

Gates is the fifth person to plead guilty in connection with Mueller’s probe, including Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

Manafort served as Trump’s campaign manager from March 2016 until August 2016, when he was fired after revelations about the extent of his work with the Party of the Regions.

After Manafort’s firing, Gates continued working with the campaign, and assisted Trump’s team in the transition after he won the election.

Mueller has also brought charges against three Russian companies and 13 Russians, including a St. Petersburg businessman with close ties to the Kremlin.

The question of Russian interference has shadowed Trump’s administration since before he took office. He has repeatedly called for a more conciliatory approach toward Moscow, and has complained about Mueller’s investigation, saying it has shown no evidence of collusion between his administration and Russia.

Flynn was fired by Trump in February 2017 after it emerged he had misled top White House officials about his interactions with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

Trump fired FBI director James Comey in May 2017, and has given contradictory explanations for it.

He said in an interview with NBC News in May 2017 that at the time he decided to fire Comey, he was thinking that “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”

After a congressional uproar, Mueller — a former FBI director himself — was appointed, overseen by the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, Rod Rosenstein.

The U.S. intelligence community issued a report the same month that Trump took office that accused Russia of a widespread cyberhacking-and-propaganda campaign aimed at influencing the vote.

The indictment Mueller issued against more than a dozen Russian suspects this month asserted the campaign intended to support Trump’s candidacy.
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036
“. https://www.rferl.org/a/us-russia-probe-trump-aide-gates-pleads-guilty/29059524.html

Emphasis added throughout.