A former official with President Donald Trump's campaign accepted a plea deal on charges brought against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and will cooperate with prosecutors, according to media reports.
Richard Gates, an associate of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, entered the guilty plea during a court appearance Feb. 23. Gates worked on the Trump campaign and the presidential inaugural committee.
Gates and Manafort were both facing charges brought by Mueller, but after Gates' plea, the special counsel filed a superseding indictment listing only Manafort as a defendant. Among other allegations, the new indictment details how the pair paid former senior European politicians to work on behalf of Ukraine, including in the U.S.
"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 alleges. "In 2012 and 2013, Manafort used at least four offshore accounts to wire more than 2 million euros to pay the group of former politicians."
Gates decided to plead guilty after reportedly telling friends and family that the price and stress of his legal battle has taken its toll on him and his family.
"Despite my initial desire to vigorously defend myself, I have had a change of heart," Gates wrote in a letter that ABC News reports it obtained. "The reality of how long this legal process will likely take, the cost, and the circus-like atmosphere of an anticipated trial are too much. I will better serve my family moving forward by exiting this process."
The terms of the plea agreement remain unclear, though the news follows an additional 32 charges filed against Manafort and Gates on Feb. 22, and last week's indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities accused of interfering in the 2016 election to support President Trump.
Manafort and Gates also faced a separate, 12-count indictment filed by the special counsel in October. The charges stem from their work as paid lobbyists for Ukraine and its former president, Viktor Yanukovych — a fact they allegedly hid from U.S. authorities.
Gates pleaded guilty to a two-count criminal information filed by Mueller's office earlier on Feb. 23, The Washington Post reported. According to that document, Gates engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. in connection with funds from his Ukrainian activities and lied to the FBI about a meeting he attended with Manafort and another lobbyist. The Post said all other charges against Gates would be dismissed.