Politics

Ex-Trump campaign deputy chairman Rick Gates sentenced to 45 'intermittent' days in jail, 3 years' probation after Mueller cooperation

Key Points
  • Rick Gates, the former deputy campaign chairman and inaugural official for President Donald Trump, is sentenced Tuesday to 45 days in jail to be served intermittently and three years of probation.
  • The relatively light sentence reflects Gates' extensive cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller in prosecution of his former business associate Paul Manafort and Trump friend Roger Stone.
  • Gates and Manafort originally were prosecuted in connection with their earnings for consulting work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.
Rick Gates, former campaign aide to U.S. President Donald Trump, departs federal court after being sentenced to 45 days in jail and three years probation, in Washington, DC, December 17, 2019.
Al Drago | Reuters

Rick Gates, the former deputy campaign chairman and inaugural official for President Donald Trump, was sentenced Tuesday to 45 days in jail to be served intermittently and three years of probation, winning leniency for his "extraordinary" cooperation with federal prosecutors against other Trump associates.

"I accept complete responsibility for my actions that have led me here," Gates, 47, told Judge Amy Berman Jackson before she sentenced him in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., for conspiracy and making a false statement.

"I greatly regret the mistakes I've made, and I've worked hard to honor my commitment to make amends," Gates said, as he asked the judge for leniency. Gates will be allowed to serve his jail term on weekends or on a scheduled to be determined later.

At the same hearing, a prosecutor revealed that Gates' former business associate Paul Manafort — who had served as Trump's presidential campaign chief for several months in 2016 — had urged Gates not to plead guilty in the case by offering him access to funds for his defense.

"Mr. Gates received pressure from Mr. Manafort not to plead, and Mr. Manafort assured that there would be a defense fund if Mr. Gates decided not to plead," assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gaston told Jackson.

Gates not only ended up pleading guilty after being charged along with the GOP lobbyist Manafort, he also testified against him at trial in 2018.

Gates' relatively light sentence for the charges was expected, despite federal sentencing guidelines suggesting a prison term of between 46 and 57 months for the longtime Republican consultant.

Prosecutors last week told Jackson in a court filing that they supported his request for only probation, given his "extraordinary assistance" to them.

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Rick Gates has admitted to committing crimes with Paul Manafort

Jackson, in granting prosecutors' request to issue a sentence that was lower than recommended by the guidelines, noted she had twice seen Gates testify in her courtroom. She said he was an "extremely candid" witness.

"This added to his credibility in my view. Yes, he clearly joined the prosecution team, but he didn't come across as some kind of bought-and-paid-for puppet," Jackson said.

But Jackson also said that Gates had provided valuable assistance in helping Manafort get away with his own crimes before he was eventually convicted at trial and pleaded guilty in separate cases.

Jackson sentenced Gates to perform 300 hours of community service and to pay a fine of $20,000 in addition to the jail term and probation.

Gates's lawyers had asked Jackson not to impose a fine, noting that he has been unemployed for two years and depleted his savings while taking care of his family as his wife suffers from cancer.

Gates' cooperation is expected to continue after Tuesday's sentencing for his crimes, which related to his concealing foreign bank accounts, tax fraud and violating federal law in connection with work done for pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine.

Both Gates and Manafort originally were charged with financial crimes related to their consulting work for the pro-Russia political party in Ukraine, which was performed prior to their roles on the Trump campaign.

Gates pleaded guilty to reduced charges in 2018, and agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

He met with Mueller's team and with members of other federal prosecutors' office at least 50 times, for more than 500 hours, prosecutors said.

"Gates has worked earnestly to provide the government with everything it has asked of him," prosecutors wrote in their filing last week.

He later testified at Manafort's trial in 2018 and at the trial of Trump friend Roger Stone earlier this year.

Both Manafort and Stone were convicted.

Manafort is serving a seven-and-half-year prison sentence for multiple crimes. Stone is awaiting sentencing for lying to Congress and witness tampering.

On Monday, another federal judge in Washington, Emmet Sullivan, said he will sentence Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn for his crime of lying to FBI agents on Jan. 28.

Flynn, who only briefly served in the Trump administration, had lied to the agents about the nature of his conversations with Russia's ambassador to the United States in the weeks before Trump's inauguration in early 2017. Flynn pleaded guilty two years ago.

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