Two major news stories intersected, but most of the media missed the collision. The Parkland High School shooting brought new scrutiny to the NRA’s position on assault weapons. And Rick Gates’ guilty plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller led many pundits to focus on how Gates’ cooperation could bolster the case against former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort. The Trump-Russia Timeline reveals a connection between the seemingly separate stories about the NRA and Gates. That connection could become key.
Start with Gates
Certainly, Rick Gates’ plea creates pressure on Manafort to flip and, presumably, testify against Trump. But Gates’ testimony alone could also worsen the legal jeopardy facing Trump (and Jared Kushner and Don Jr.). When it comes to Trump, Gates might know as much as Manafort, and perhaps more.
Go to the Trump-Russia Timeline, click on Rick Gates, and you’ll find more details about the following entries:
2006: Gates joins Manafort’s consulting firm and begins a decade-long relationship as his confidant.
March 2016: Manafort joins the Trump campaign. Gates goes with him and remains Manafort’s right-hand man.
A month ago, I urged a watchful eye on the FBI’s interest in whether Russians funneled campaign contributions to Trump through the NRA. Accepting campaign contributions from a foreign adversary is illegal. How might Gates fill out that picture? Here’s a start:
May 19-22, 2016: Trump, Don Jr. and Torshin at the NRA. Gates is copied (along with Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort) on emails communicating the request of a top Putin ally — Alexander Torshin, deputy governor of Russia’s central bank — to meet with Trump at the NRA’s annual convention in Nashville. Torshin has to settle for dinner with Don Jr.
Now go to the Timeline, click simultaneously on both Rick Gates and Alexander Torshin. and draw your own conclusions from uncontested facts.
There Could Be Much More
But Gates alone may have more to say about a lot of other Trump-Russia things. Returning to Gates’ entries on the Timeline:
May 21, 2016: Papadopoulos Pushes Russia Meeting. Manafort forwards to Gates an email that he received from George Papadopoulos, who is pushing the Russians’ request for a direct meeting between Putin and Trump.
Timeline entries for June 9, 2016 (“Don Jr., Manafort, Kushner Meet With Russian Lawyer”) and July 14, 2016 (“Trump Campaign Successfully Changes GOP Platform on Ukraine”) do not yet show up as involving Gates. But his proximity to Manafort makes them candidates for future inclusion. Meanwhile, Gates does appear in these entries:
Aug. 19, 2016: Manafort Resigns From Trump Campaign; Gates Remains. After Manafort leaves the campaign amid controversy over increasing media attention to his exploits with Ukraine’s pro-Putin president, Gates moves over to the Republican National Committee and remains in Trump’s inner circle.
Jan. 20, 2017: Gates Remains in Trump Orbit. After the election, Gates becomes a consultant to the presidential transition, including the inauguration committee. After the inauguration, Gates and the Trump campaign’s digital director, Brad Parscale, help raise $25 million for a new pro-Trump group, “America First Policies.”
In short, Gates has a continuity of experience with Trump that Manafort doesn’t. As a cooperating witness for Mueller, Gates could be especially potent.
Here’s a complete list of this week’s Trump-Russia Timeline update:
MARCH 19, 2013: Manafort Has Dinner with Rohrabacher
DECEMBER 2016: Suspicious Bank Loans to Manafort
SEPTEMBER 2012: US Law Firm Completes Report on Ukrainian Trial
SEPTEMBER 2016: FBI Has Open “Sub-Inquiries” On Individuals with Trump Campaign Links
SEPTEMBER 2016: Skadden Attorney Communicates With Gates and “Person A”
OCT. 21, 2016: FBI Seeks FISA Warrant on Carter Page (revision of previous entry)
OCTOBER 2017: Trump’s Bodyguard Gets RNC Job
FEB. 1, 2018: Gates Lies to Mueller
FEB. 2, 2018: Mueller Issues Criminal Information Against Rick Gates
FEB. 7, 2018: US Forces Attacked in Syria; Russian Oligarch Involved
FEB. 14, 2018: Lawyer Connected to Manafort and Gates Agrees to Guilty Plea Guilty
FEB. 16, 2018: Mueller’s DC Grand Jury Issues Superseding Indictment Against Manafort
FEB. 18, 2018: Former Russian Troll Farm Employee Arrested
FEB. 19, 2018: Mueller Looking at Kushner’s Finances
FEB. 19, 2018: Trump Blames Obama for Russian Meddling
FEB. 20, 2018: Trump Tweet-storm About Russia and Obama Continues
FEB. 21, 2018: Trump Tweets
FEB. 22, 2018: Trump Tweets As NRA Takes Heat
FEB. 22, 2018: New Charges Against Manafort and Gates
FEB. 23, 2018: Gates Pleads Guilty; Manafort Professes Innocence
FEB. 24, 2018: Democratic Rebuttal To Nunes Memo Released
FEB. 24, 2018: Trump Lies About Democratic Response to Nunes Memo
FEB. 26, 2018: GOP House Leaders Refuse to Investigate Trump Finances