Mueller requests Rick Gates’s sentencing be delayed due to cooperation in multiple ongoing investigations
WASHINGTON — Rick Gates, the former top deputy to one-time Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, continues to cooperate with investigators in ‘‘several ongoing investigations’’ and so, is not ready for sentencing, according to a Friday court filing.
The request in Washington to delay sentencing was made jointly by special counsel Robert Mueller and Gates’s attorney, Thomas Green.
‘‘The status of this matter has not changed substantially since the January report, as defendant Gates continues to cooperate with respect to several ongoing investigations, and accordingly the parties do not believe it is appropriate to commence the sentencing process at this time,’’ they wrote in a one-page update for U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columiba. The investigations were not described.
The reference to Gates’s cooperation echoed language used in November and in January and asked for another 60 days - until May 14 - to deliver the next update on Gates’s standing.
The request to hold off on delivering Gates his sentence comes amid heightened speculation about whether the special counsel probe might be winding down in a week that saw Manafort receive a total of 7-1/2 years in prison for his pair of federal cases growing out of the Mueller probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The update in Gates case is a reminder of pending investigations into matters he worked on. As Donald Trump’s deputy campaign chairman and a top inauguration official, Gates had firsthand insight into several of the president’s senior aides and activities.
Gates pleaded guilty in February 2018 to conspiracy and lying to the FBI, becoming one of the first targets to cooperate in Mueller’s investigation.
He testified for the government against his former boss at Manafort’s August fraud trial in Virginia, which preceded Manafort’s guilty plea in another federal case in Washington.
Manafort’s sentencing Wednesday capped the two cases of conspiring to defraud the United States by concealing millions of dollars he earned while working for a Russia-backed political party in Ukraine; conspiring to tamper with witnesses; and bank and tax fraud.
Separately this week, another federal judge on Thursday set a deadline of June 14 as the latest to tell a judge when former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn can be sentenced. Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his post-election contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak regarding U.S. sanctions.
His sentencing has been put off several times, and Flynn’s lawyers sought the latest delay citing his potential cooperation in a pending federal trial of a one of Flynn’s business partner in Virginia.
The signs of ongoing activity in cases spawned by Mueller’s remain even amid activity that shows the team he assembled is readying to disband.
On Thursday, Mueller spokesman Peter Carr confirmed in a email that Andrew Weissmann, a leading prosecutor in the Manafort and Gates cases, ‘‘will be concluding his detail to the Special Counsel’s Office in the near future.’’
NPR first reported that Weissmann is returning to New York University, where since 2011 he was a senior law school fellow between stints serving as FBI general counsel under then-FBI director Mueller and as chief of the Justice Department’s criminal division’s fraud section, from which he joined the special counsel probe.
Gates worked closely for years as Manafort’s right-hand man as a political consultant in Ukraine and as his deputy on the presidential campaign.
After Manafort resigned from the Trump campaign in August 2016 amid concerns over his ongoing Ukraine contacts, Gates remained in Trump’s orbit, working as a campaign adviser until the election. He then helped organize Trump’s inauguration.
He faces about five to six years in prison under sentencing guidelines, but his cooperation could prompt the government to ask for significantly less time.
Gates’s plea raised the pressure on Manafort, and court filings indicate Gates provided key information to prosecutors.