Mueller Reportedly Convinced a Top Trump Campaign Aide to Cooperate with Investigation

Rick Gates, a one-time top aide to the Trump campaign and business associate of Paul Manafort, is planning on pleading guilty and cooperating in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, according to a new report from CNN.

If the report is accurate, he'll become the third reported cooperating witness in the Russia probe, which could pose a serious risk to anyone in the Trump campaign — including President Donald Trump himself — who may be guilty of any wrongdoing.

"Gates' cooperation could be another building block for Mueller in a possible case against President Donald Trump or key members of his team," wrote Katelyn Polantz and Sara Murray for CNN.

Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos are also believed to be working with Mueller.

Gates was first indicted along with Manafort, Trump's former campaign chair, on an extensive list of charges that largely covered financial crimes and lying to the government. 

Many of the president's defenders argued the charges had little to do with a Russian or election interference. However, Gates and Manafort stand accused of concealing their work for Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, who eventually fled his country to seek the protection of Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Now that he's reportedly flipping under pressure from Mueller, Gates could reveal potentially damaging information about any number of people. 

After Manafort was ousted from the campaign in August, Gates continued working with Trump through the transition. He may have deep knowledge of the Trump campaign activities and personnel, or he may help bolster the case against Manafort, his long-time business associate.

If Mueller's case against Manafort is strengthened, it would increase the likelihood that the former campaign chair himself may provide evidence against the president or his staff — assuming he has any to provide.

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