How ex-Trump aide's guilty plea may affect Russia probe

ABC News Chief Legal Analyst Dan Abrams and former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara discuss what Rick Gates' guilty plea may mean for the Mueller investigation.
5:37 | 02/25/18

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Transcript for How ex-Trump aide's guilty plea may affect Russia probe
coming out of the courthouse on Friday after making a plea deal. We're going to talk about wit preet bharara. And our chief legal analyst, Dan Abrams. Nine months into the Mueller investigation, he has five guilty pleas. New charges filed against Paul manafort. Could face decades in prison. Indicted 13 Russian nationals. What does that all tell you? He's relentless. Thorough. Takes seriously crime related to obstruction. Lying. It tells you that given how much surprise there has been every time there's a charge, an indictment, a plea. Sometimes with respect to people not on the radar screen, there's a lot we don't toe. At any moment, more could happen. We don't know where it's foip to lead. That's the question about Rick Gates. How much more information he can give. He pled guilty to two counts. Could face five to seven years in prison. That could go to probation if he cooperates. You have to view all of these as building blocks. The 13 crush Yan indictments. The plea deal. The reason the government is eliminating an enormous amount of counts is because they believe they have something to offer them. Something beyond what we already know. And so, when you think about the broad scope fof of the investigation, you have to think about this. Why did he make the deal with Flynn? What is Flynn offering him? And Gates. The people that think this is just about mana J fort is missing the point. The crimes manafort is charged with, these arement document-heavy crimes. You don't need Gates to prove the manafort case. You're saying he ga up someone else? I'm saying could it help. But for the government to want to make a deal, there has to be more. How much does Mueller know? Presteambly, if he's reached a cooperation afwreemt, they should know everything. Already everything? You don't sign a dotted line unless you have heard everything. Obviously, will is some point, as recently as February 1st, fwats was talking to prosecutor and FBI agents and they didn't believe him. I agree with Dan. On one point at least. That the case against manafort is very, very, very strong. Toost not three receipt call. You paid your tacks or you tipt. You had's account or you didn't. Paul manafort is if the a heap of trouble. You were a prosecutor. You foe Robert Mueller pretty well. In your mind, what tuz Gates have to give to get the kind of deal we're talking about now? We didn't let cooperating withins off the hook. If we charged them with 40 counts, and then they wanted to do something differently, they need to do more. I don't know what evidence he would need. Could be, look, they want to be certain they convict everybody that they charge. If you want to charge, I agree with what Dan said, they probably don't need him to convict mananfort. If it raises him from 95% to 95%, you tine up a fie like fates. . Take us into this. What is he the telling us? A good defense attorney willing to be honest. That's the critical point. If you have an attorney that will be honest with him about where things stand. He's facing a heap of trouble. Because of the timypes of crimes you're talking about. We talk about intent. Here, you have the records, the documents. This is real problem. Does that mean Paul manafort ought to or will cooperate? No. If his lawyer is giving him good as vice, he has to the telling him, this is serious. H is real. We're not going to be able to defend this easy. It will be a very tough case. A deal is something Robert Mueller would be interesting in? Of course. Yes. If manafort has something to give up, it can happen on the eve of trial. I don't see how he defends these charges well. When we come back, two governors working across the aisle.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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