Some of President Donald Trump’s closest associates—from former campaign manager Paul Manafort to former personal attorney Michael Cohen to 2016 campaign aide Rick Gates—flipped on the president and have been fully cooperating in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia-related investigation. Gates, during the Summer of 2018, was the star witness in Manafort’s criminal trial. And Gates’ sentencing has been delayed so that his cooperation in Mueller’s probe can continue.
Gates confessed to a long list of financial crimes during his in-depth testimony against Manafort, his former business partner. And in a joint memo filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit, attorneys for Gates and Mueller stated that 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.”
In February, Gates pled guilty to conspiracy and lying in a federal investigation. But the charges that Gates pled guilty to as part of his deal with Mueller and the U.S. Justice Department were only the tip of the iceberg: during Manafort’s trial in a federal courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia, Gates offered elaborate details of his involvement in all of Manafort’s financial crimes.
The Justice Department and Gates’ attorneys agreed to give the court another update by January 15, 2019.
With other Trump associates who are cooperating in Mueller’s investigation, sentencing may come sooner. In December 2017, Michael Flynn (who briefly served as national security advisor in the Trump Administration) pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with Russian officials in late 2016—and Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on December 18.
Manafort, meanwhile, is scheduled to be sentenced on February 8, 2019 on tax fraud and bank fraud charges.
Mueller’s investigation, however, could be in danger. Right after the 2018 midterms, President Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him with loyalist Matthew Whitaker—who has been openly critical of the investigation. Outgoing Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, whose Senate seat will be filled by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in January, introduced a bill to protect Mueller’s investigation. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked Flake’s bill.
Nonetheless, Mueller’s investigation continues for now. And the fact that Gates’ sentencing is being delayed indicates that Mueller’s team still believes that he has a lot to offer the investigation.