Ex-Trump Adviser Richard Gates Expected to Plead Guilty in Mueller Probe

Plea suggests he is likely to cooperate with special counsel’s investigation

.. Richard Gates —a former Trump campaign official who was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on tax-related charges—is expected to plead guilty as soon as Friday afternoon as part of a deal that will likely ensure his cooperation in Mr. Mueller’s investigation

.. it almost certainly means Mr. Gates would testify in any trial of his close business associate Paul Manafort

Mr. Gates’ expected guilty plea comes after two others Trump associates have admitted to criminal wrongdoing

.. As recently as two days ago, Mr. Gates has told associates he did not expect to plead guilty

y Mueller’s moves send message to other potential targets: Beware, I’m coming

“Who else is cooperating that we don’t know about? That’s what people in the White House need to be worried about.’’

.. Toomey called the indictment of Manafort and Gates “extraordinarily intricate’’ and said it will put “enormous pressure’’ on the defendants to cooperate

.. The indictment even seems to go out of its way to kneecap a standard defense argument in such cases — that the defendant got bad advice from his accountant. The indictment charges that Manafort wrote specifically to his accountant that he did not have foreign bank accounts.

.. Nick Akerman, a former assistant special Watergate prosecutor, said the court filings “all spell bad news for President Trump.’’

Akerman said he could not see any defense to the Manafort indictment.

“He has no choice but to plead guilty. That’s what the indictment says to me,’’ he said. “The only defense that you’ve got is to go in there and start singing like a canary to avoid jail time. And once he starts singing, one of the tunes is bound to be Donald Trump.’’

.. What’s striking about the indictment, Nanavati said, is the number of people who worked for Manafort — accountants, lawyers and others — who provided key evidence against him.

.. And unidentified lobbying firms indirectly hired by Manafort, he said, “are in significant trouble’’ because of the written exchanges referenced in the indictment alleging that some people at the firms were aware that Manafort was lying about their work together.

.. Nanavati said a key change in U.S. tax enforcement that began in 2008 — going after foreign bank accounts controlled by Americans — probably played an important role in the case against Manafort.

Before the Justice Department started cracking through the layers of Swiss banking secrecy that hid Americans’ accounts in 2008, he said, the requirement on Americans to declare foreign bank accounts was on the books but “basically, nobody ever did it, and almost no one ever got prosecuted for it. That changed in 2008, and tax return preparers started asking.’’

Why Donald Trump Is Free to Show Independence From GOP

The president’s backers know he didn’t run as a traditional Republican

At this point, if Mr. Trump really wants to operate as a political independent, and attract the support of politically independent Americans to bolster the effort, picking a fight with Republican leaders probably will only help him. In recent Journal/NBC News polling, the share of independents who had a negative view of the GOP outstripped those with a positive view by a hefty 31 percentage points.

 .. Disdain for Mr. Trump among rank-and-file Democrats will put a ceiling on how far Mr. Schumer or any other party leader can go in cooperating with him. Just 8% of Democrats say they approve of the job the president is doing
.. Democratic leaders probably have the license to cooperate with Mr. Trump on raising the debt ceiling, funding government and improving infrastructure, and on some trade matters. But the party base figures to rise up against the kind of large-scale tax cut and defense-spending increases Mr. Trump envisions and revolt if he doesn’t agree to extend legal status for “Dreamers,” immigrants brought to the U.S. as young children.

So cooperation with Democrats has distinct boundaries. But nobody should be surprised Mr. Trump is choosing to test those boundaries at this point.