A former senior adviser on Donald Trump’s election campaign pleaded guilty Friday to charges from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. With his plea on federal conspiracy and false-statements charges, Rick Gates became the fifth person to plead guilty in the Mueller probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible coordination with Trump’s campaign.
Here’s a look at the four others:
Trump’s former national security adviser, a retired general who had led the Defense Intelligence Agency, was the first White House official charged in Mueller’s probe. The plea on December 1 to one count of lying to the FBI requires Flynn to cooperate with prosecutors. The favourable deal suggests that prosecutors thought Flynn’s cooperation was key to other parts of the probe. Flynn was a national security surrogate during the later parts of the campaign. He was charged with lying about conversations with Russia’s ambassador to Washington during the transition.
Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign aide whom the White House has described as a low-level volunteer, became a major figure in Mueller’s probe when he pleaded guilty on October 30 to lying to the FBI. Papadopoulos was arrested in July and has been interviewed repeatedly by authorities, according to court documents. After entering his guilty plea, he was ordered not to contact other Trump officials and prohibited from foreign travel. Papadopoulos, in fact, appears to have been the trigger for the whole investigation. In a conversation with an Australian diplomat, Papadopoulos told him he had learned the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.” The conversation was prior to that information becoming public and the diplomat informed US authorities.
The California man had the misfortune to unwittingly sell bank accounts to Russians meddling in US elections. Richard “Ricky” Pinedo pleaded guilty to using stolen identities to set up bank accounts that were then used by the Russians. The US government acknowledged that Pinedo did not know that he was dealing with Russians. The plea was announced on the same day that Mueller’s office charged 13 Russians, including a businessman close to Vladimir Putin, in an elaborate plot to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election. The federal indictment was the most direct allegation to date of illegal Russian meddling during the campaign.
ALEX VAN DER ZWAAN
The 33-year-old lawyer pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his interactions with Gates. Van der Zwaan was fired last year by law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. A Dutch citizen who lives in London, he is the son-in-law of a Russian billionaire. Van der Zwaan admitted to lying to federal investigators while they questioned him about the production of a legal report that Paul Manafort and Gates are accused of secretly funding by funneling $4 million through an offshore account. The charge does not involve election meddling or relate to the Trump campaign’s operations.