Prosecutors OK with probation for ex-Trump aide Rick Gates

The Justice Department is not opposing a sentence of probation for a former Trump campaign official who cooperated extensively in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department said Tuesday it is not opposing a sentence of probation for a former Trump campaign official who provided “extraordinary assistance" in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum that Rick Gates met with investigators more than 50 times, testified in three criminal trials, admitted to his participation in crimes about which the government was not previously aware, and has agreed to continue testifying even after he's sentenced.

“In short, under exceedingly difficult circumstances and under intense public scrutiny, Gates has worked earnestly to provide the government with everything it has asked of him and has fulfilled all obligations under his plea agreement," prosecutors wrote in agreeing not to challenge his request to avoid prison.

If Gates receives probation at his sentencing hearing hearing next week in Washington's federal court, it would be the most lenient punishment received by any of the Trump associates sentenced so far in Mueller's probe into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Two others are still awaiting sentencing.

The government initially endorsed a similar probation sentence for former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn, but a sentencing hearing was postponed last year and prosecutors have recently signaled that they might seek prison time amid efforts by Flynn's lawyers to discredit the case against him and Mueller's overall investigation.

Manafort, who was Trump's campaign chairman, was convicted by a jury in federal court in Virginia last year and later pleaded guilty in Washington. He is now serving more than seven years in prison.

Gates testified against both Manafort and Roger Stone, the former Trump associate convicted last month on charges including lying to Congress and witness tampering. Stone is awaiting sentencing.

“Gates’ cooperation has been steadfast despite the fact that the government has asked for his assistance in high profile matters, against powerful individuals, in the midst of a particularly turbulent environment. Gates received pressure not to cooperate with the government, including assurances of monetary assistance," prosecutors wrote.

They said “he should he commended for standing up to provide information and public testimony" against those individuals, “knowing well that they enjoy support from the upper echelons of American politics and society."