A former top adviser to President Donald Trump's election campaign pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy and false statements charges Friday in the special counsel's Russia investigation.
The plea by Rick Gates is a strong indication that he is planning to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation as it continues to probe the Trump campaign, Russian election interference and Gates' longtime business associate, Paul Manafort.
Gates, 45, of Richmond, Virginia, appeared at the federal courthouse in Washington for his plea agreement hearing.
A court filing shows Gates has agreed to plead to charges accusing him of conspiring against the U.S. government related to fraud and unregistered foreign lobbying as well as lying to federal authorities in a recent interview.
Gates' decision to admit to the crimes comes a day after a federal grand jury in Virginia returned a 32-count indictment against him and Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, accusing them of tax evasion and bank fraud.
The indictment in Virginia was the second round of charges against Gates and against Manafort, who has denied any wrongdoing. The two men were initially charged last October with unregistered lobbying and conspiring to launder millions of dollars they earned while working on behalf of a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party.
Gates' decision marks the fifth publicly known guilty plea in the special counsel probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 campaign.