Gates's false statement to FBI came during meeting over plea deal

Gates's false statement to FBI came during meeting over plea deal
© Greg Nash

Former Trump campaign aide Richard Gates admitted that even while he was in discussions with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's team of prosecutors about a plea deal, he made a false statement to investigators.

Gates made the false statement during a meeting with Mueller's team on Feb. 1, the same day his previous lawyers withdrew from the case citing "irreconcilable differences," NBC News reported Friday after Gates entered his guilty plea.

A statement of offense attached to Gates's plea agreement stated that the former Trump campaign aide made a false statement about a 2013 meeting with his longtime business associate Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortWhy did Mueller allow his investigation to continue for two years? Manafort transferred to minimum security federal prison Poll: Nearly half of Republicans say no one on Trump campaign committed a crime MORE, Rep. Dana RohrabacherDana Tyrone RohrabacherMueller probe: A timeline from beginning to end Progressives come to Omar's defense Expanding Social Security: Popular from sea to shining sea MORE (R-Calif.) and a lobbyist, claiming that Ukrainian politics were not discussed when they were.

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Rohrabacher's spokesman Ken Grubbs issued a statement to NBC News stating that the subject of Ukraine came up "in passing" during the 2013 meeting.

"The three reminisced and talked mostly about politics. The subject of Ukraine came up in passing," Grubbs said.

"It is no secret that Manafort represented [former Ukraine president] Viktor Yanukovych’s interests, but as chairman of the relevant European subcommittee, the congressman has listened to all points of view on Ukraine. We may only speculate that Manafort needed to report back to his client that Ukraine was discussed," he added.

Gates admitted in his guilty plea to helping Manafort, President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 MORE's former campaign chairman, "in a variety of criminal schemes" centered around concealing millions of dollars earned for lobbying work in Ukraine from the U.S. government.

Manafort has maintained his innocence in the case, and issued a statement Friday expressing confusion over his business associate's guilty plea.

In a letter first reported by ABC News, Gates said Friday that he was pleading guilty for the sake of his children.

“Despite my initial desire to vigorously defend myself, I have had a change of heart,” Gates wrote. “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.”

Gates is now the third former Trump campaign official to plead guilty to charges stemming from Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign foreign policy aide George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosPoll: Nearly half of Republicans say no one on Trump campaign committed a crime George Papadopoulos urges Barr to investigate examples of 'spying' while he was campaign aide Ten post-Mueller questions that could turn the tables on Russia collusion investigators MORE both pleaded guilty last year to lying to investigators.