The Latest on Gates

On Friday, I noted that Rick Gates, former Trump campaign aide and longtime Paul Manafort associate, was reportedly close to finalizing a plea deal with Special Counsel Bob Mueller.

Over the weekend, the LA Times and CBS News reported some additional speculative details:
Rick Gates, the deputy of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, will plead guilty to "fraud-related charges," the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

The Times cited interviews with unnamed people familiar with the case. One person with "direct knowledge of the new developments" said Gates' revised plea would be presented in court "within the next few days": "Rick Gates is going to change his plea to guilty," the source said.

CBS News later reported later Sunday that, according to unnamed sources familiar with the negotiations, Gates was expected to plead guilty.

The network added, referring to Gates' attorneys' move to withdraw from the case: "The fact that three experienced trial attorneys wanted off the case suggested at the time that Gates may be pursuing a plea deal. The attorneys remain under a gag order by the court."
So, essentially just confirmation of CNN's reporting last week — but the additional reports, combined with the Friday announcement of Mueller's indictment of 13 Russian nationals and 3 Russian entities, has sent Donald Trump into a tailspin, prompting coverage with embarassing headlines like this one at the Washington Post: "Trump Lashes out over Russia Probe in Angry and Error-Laden Tweetstorm."
In a defiant and error-laden tweetstorm that was remarkable even by his own combative standards, Trump stewed aloud about the latest indictments brought by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III against Russians for their elaborate campaign to denigrate the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, and push voters toward Trump.

...In a string of 10 Twitter messages — which began after 11 p.m. Saturday and ended around noon Sunday, and which included profanity and misspellings — Trump opened a window into his state of mind, even as Trump's representatives at a global security conference in Germany advised jittery allies to generally ignore the president's tweets.

Trump's latest attacks built on remarks last week in which he misrepresented the evidence revealed by Mueller. He tweeted falsely, "I never said Russia did not meddle in the election." He blamed President Barack Obama's administration for doing "nothing" to stop the intrusion. Trump rebuked national security adviser H.R. McMaster for publicly saying the evidence of Russian interference was "incontrovertible."

And he held the FBI responsible for last week's devastating shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school that left 17 dead. Trump tweeted that the bureau was committing so many resources to the Russia probe that it missed "all of the many signals" about the shooter.
This last bit prompted former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi to say during an appearance on Joy Reid's show that Trump has "read the 32-page indictment Mueller issued on Friday and he knows there's electronic intercepts of Russian officials. He's scared out of his mind and playing with the parents of America."

Trump is thrashing. Which is very unnerving. His unchecked power is what demands intervention, and it is also what makes intervention so perilous.

Back in October, when Gates was arrested and charged alongside Manafort, I tweeted: "Cornering Trump is dangerous. I am not feeling giddy about what's coming. I am hoping we all get through it safely."

And once again, I want to emphasize that: Although I am positively desperate for accountability for the collection of disloyal scoundrels in the White House, my primary hope right now is that we get through this safely.

There is a reckless megalomaniac sitting in the Oval Office, who is capable of breathtaking cruelty, especially in service to his self-interest. I am very worried what he will do if he is not disempowered — and I am very worried about what he will do if the necessary steps are taken to ensure that he is.

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