Rick Gates
Rick Gates

Richard W. Gates III (born April 27, 1972) is an American former political consultant and lobbyist who has pled guilty to conspiracy against the United States and making false statements. He is a longtime business associate of Paul Manafort and served as deputy to Manafort when the latter was campaign manager of the Donald Trump presidential campaign in 2016. Gates and Manafort were both indicted in October 2017 on charges related to their consulting work with pro-Russian political figures in Ukraine. Additional charges were filed in District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on February 21, 2018, however these charges were withdrawn on February 27, 2018, without prejudice, as agreed to in his plea bargain with Robert S. Mueller III.

Indictment and arrest

On October 27, 2017, Gates and Manafort were indicted by a federal grand jury as part of the Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections and related matters. The twelve-count indictment charges the two men with conspiracy against the United States, making false statements, money laundering, and failing to register as foreign agents for Ukraine as required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The charges arise from his consulting work for a pro-Russian government in Ukraine and are unrelated to the Trump campaign.

Manafort and Gates surrendered to the FBI on October 30, 2017, and at a court hearing both chose to plead not guilty.

While awaiting trial, Manafort was released on $10 million bond and Gates was released on $5 million bond. Prosecutors described them as flight risks, and as a condition of pretrial release, both men surrendered their passports and were placed under house arrest.

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued an order on December 22, 2017 demanding that Gates explain why his comments in a brief, videotaped address to the fundraiser held in an Arlington, Va., Holiday Inn, on December 19, did not amount to a violation of the gag order she issued in the case. Of particular concern to Jackson is Gates' involvement with the eccentric Washington-area lobbyist who organized the event, Jack Burkman.

On January 23, 2018, CNN reported that Gates had added prominent white-collar attorney Tom Green to his defense team. The action could relate to a change in strategy, e.g. from a flat not-guilty plea to some kind of cooperation with prosecutors. On February 22, The Daily Beast reported that Gates fired Green.

On February 7, 2018, three Gates' attorneys cited 'irreconcilable differences' with client in court hearing with Judge Amy Berman Jackson in their motion to withdraw as Gates’ counsel.

On February 15, 2018, CNN reported that Gates is finalizing a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller's office, indicating he's poised to cooperate in the special counsel's investigation, as he has undergone his "Queen for a Day" interview, in which Gates answers any and all questions from the special counsel's team, including about his own case and other potential criminal activity he witnessed or participated in, with the only stipulation being that you cannot lie. During this proffer session, on February 1, Gates lied to FBI investigators, and this false statement made by Gates was incorporated into the plea bargain that he subsequently entered into.

On February 22, 2018, Mueller revealed new charges in the Manafort and Gates case, filed on February 21. Unlike previous indictments, the superseding indictment was issued by a federal grand jury in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, and contains 32 counts: 16 counts related to false individual income tax returns, seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, five counts of bank fraud conspiracy, and four counts of bank fraud.

On February 23, 2018, Gates pleaded guilty to one count of false statements and one count of conspiracy against the United States. The plea bargain included an agreement to cooperate with the Mueller investigation. Federal guidelines suggest Gates will face a sentence of 57 to 71 months, but these are only advisory and are subject to discretion. A status report with regard to sentencing was scheduled for May 14, 2018.