A former Trump campaign aide has decided 18 months in prison for fraud-related charges is the best deal he's going to get from Robert Mueller's team, insiders tell the Los Angeles Times. The sources say that in return for leniency, Rick Gates plans to change his plea to guilty and will testify against former campaign chief Paul Manafort, who worked with him in political consulting for around 10 years. Both men are accused of money laundering and other offenses related to their work in Ukraine. One of the Times' sources says Gates, who has four children, can't afford an expensive legal team to defend him in the Mueller probe. If "you go to trial on this, that's $1 million to $1.5 million," the source says.
Sources tell CNN that Gates had hoped to benefit from a legal defense fund, but major GOP donors aren't interested in coughing up money to defend him and Manafort. Gates, 45, joined the Trump campaign in June 2016, the same time as Manafort, but stayed on long after Manafort was fired in August. One of the Times' sources says Gates' testimony against Manafort could be the "cherry on top" of Mueller's case, though he doesn't believe Gates has information that would help "turn the screws on Trump." The New York Times reports that on Friday, the Justice Department disclosed that California computer specialist Richard Pinedo had pleaded guilty to identity theft and was cooperating with the investigation of 13 Russians charged with interfering in the 2016 election. He allegedly used stolen identities to set up bank accounts used by the Russians.