Paul Manafort associate has FBI house arrest lifted so he can attend New Year's eve party

Rick Gates is under house arrest as part of the Trump-Russia investigation being conducted by the FBI 

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Thursday 28 December 2017 22:26 GMT
Former Trump campaign official Rick Gates leaves Federal Court on 11 December 2017 in Washington, DC.
Former Trump campaign official Rick Gates leaves Federal Court on 11 December 2017 in Washington, DC. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

A former member of President Donald Trump‘s 2016 campaign team has had his house arrest lifted so he can attend a New Year’s Eve party.

Rick Gates, a business associate of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, asked to be allowed to attend the event with his family, according to court documents.

The party is less than 60 miles from his home. Judge Amy Berman Jackson had previously denied another request by Mr Gates to attend a similar New Year’s party further afield, but felt this request showed “good cause”.

Ms Jackson also denied a request last month in which Mr Gates asked permission to drive his children to and from school.

Mr Gates has been under house arrest in Virginia since October 2017 when he and Mr Manafort were charged with 12 counts of conspiracy against the US, conspiracy to launder money, various charges regarding being a foreign agent for Ukraine without properly reporting their work to the US government, and seven counts of failing to report foreign bank and financial accounts.

The document stated that $75m went in and out of offshore accounts controlled by the pair, who both pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Michael Flynn: Fired Trump adviser's pleads guilty to Russia investigation charge

The indictment was filed by special prosecutor Robert Mueller as part of the overall FBI investigation into alleged collusion between Trump campaign team members and Russian officials.

Experts have said the charges against Mr Gates and Mr Manafort are meant to elicit a plea deal in which they share more pertinent information to the Russia case in exchange for lighter sentencing.

In October Mieke Eoyang, Vice President for the National Security Programme at DC-based think tank Third Way, told The Independent, that the nature of the charges “means that [Mr Manafort] isn’t the ultimate big fish that they intend to get”.

However, “charging together suggests that [Mr] Gates can’t seek a better deal by flipping on [Mr] Manafort,” Ms Eoyang said.

“[Mr] Manafort can try to negotiate better terms by implicating someone higher – Trump or Pence. But we’re still at the beginning of this thing. This is like the capture of the burglars in Watergate – it’s the start of the unwinding,” she explained.

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign aide George Papadopoulos have pleaded guilty in the same case to lying to the FBI about their contacts with Russian officials ahead of Mr Trump’s inauguration.

The FBI and Congressional investigations into the alleged collusion continue as Mr Gates waits for trial.

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