A former top adviser to President Trump's election campaign pleaded guilty Friday to federal conspiracy and false-statements charges in the special counsel's Russia investigation, the AP reports. The plea by Rick Gates was a strong indication that he is planning to cooperate with Robert Mueller's investigation as it continues to probe the Trump campaign, Russian election interference, and Gates' longtime business associate, Paul Manafort. A court filing shows Gates admitted to charges accusing him of conspiring against the US government related to fraud and unregistered foreign lobbying as well as lying to federal authorities in a recent interview. Gates' decision marks the fifth publicly known guilty plea in the special counsel probe.
Meanwhile, the AP reports Mueller is accusing Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, of secretly paying former European politicians to lobby on behalf of Ukraine. The new allegation against Manafort comes in a newly unsealed indictment made public Friday. The indictment accuses Manafort of paying the former politicians, informally known as the "Hapsburg group," to appear to be "independent" analysts when in fact they were paid lobbyists. Some of the covert lobbying took place in the US. The indictment says the group was managed by a former European chancellor. Court papers accuse Manafort of using offshore accounts to pay the group more than 2 million euros. The new charges are separate from Thursday's 32-count indictment against Manafort and Gates in Virginia.
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