Paul Manafort wasn’t alone in the 12-count indictment that was handed out by the FBI in connection with the Russia probe on Monday, and many onlookers are wondering why business partner Rick Gates, complicit in all Manafort’s crimes, wasn’t talked about more by national media before today.
While many Americans first learned Gates’ name this week, he had been making frequent trips to the White House since March.
Gates’ relationship with Manafort stretches back decades. The two worked together at Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly, a consulting firm formed in 1980 at which another close Trump associate, Roger Stone, served as partner. Gates is said to have connected with Manafort initially when he was an intern at the firm.
Stone did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the arrest of either of his former business partners on Monday.
The former intern eventually became Manafort’s top deputy, working with the veteran lobbyist to serve several pro-Russia clients over the years. When former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko sued Manafort in 2011 for racketeering, Gates was named as an agent of a Ukrainian oligarch.
Though an American judge tossed the lawsuit in 2015, legal documents from the case were obtained by special counsel Robert Mueller and his team as part of their investigation into Russian election meddling.
Following the inauguration, Gates went to work for America First Policies, an outside group formed by former Trump campaign hands to support the president’s agenda. He was forced to leave the group in late March – days after former FBI Director James Comey confirmed the agency was investigating alleged ties between the Kremlin and Trump associates – due to renewed scrutiny of his relationship with Manafort.
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