Former Trump campaign official Rick Gates was paid tens of thousands of dollars in 2017 by a company headed by a leading Republican fundraiser and a firm headed by Donald Trump's inaugural committee chairman for help navigating the new administration, even as Gates was under criminal investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, a new report says.
The New York Times article raises questions of why the two men, Elliott Broidy and Thomas Barrack, each of whom had close ties to the Republican Party and, in Barrack's case, to the president himself, were paying a lobbyist like Gates for guidance on how to deal with the new administration. Gates, who did not work in the administration, was a co-founder of pro-Trump group America First Policies.
The Times said Broidy, the California venture capitalist who had been a deputy finance chair for the Republican National Committee, paid Gates at least $125,000 before Gates was charged by Mueller last October, along with former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort.
"For that money Mr. Gates advised Mr. Broidy on how to pursue both a contract for his business and appointments for his associates and provided insight into the new administration’s foreign policy plans," the Times said. Broidy was seeking foreign clients for a defense contractor he bought in 2015, the article said.
A firm owned by Trump's longtime close friend Barrack, Colony NorthStar, started paying Gates $20,000 per month shortly after the inauguration, according to the Times. Barrack had been the inauguration's chairman. Gates was deputy chairman of the inaugural committee.
A source close to Barrack, and with direct knowledge of the matter, told CNBC that Barrack received no warning about Gates' indictment, and his contract was terminated the day of the indictment. Gates worked for Colony Northstar as an independent contractor, consulting on legislative and regulatory matters.
Gates, a former business associate of Manafort, pleaded guilty in February to financial fraud and lying to federal investigators. He has agreed to cooperate with Mueller against Manafort, who is due to go on trial next week in federal court in Virginia.
Representatives for Broidy did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment. A spokeswoman for Barrack declined to comment.