Manafort protege Rick Gates worked in Ukraine, made his way into Trump campaign’s inner circle

Rick Gates, the longtime protege of ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort, was advised to turn himself in Monday along with his mentor as part of the Russia investigation.

Both were hit with 12 counts Monday, including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, according to the Justice Department.

Gates’s relationship with Manafort goes back decades, and they’ve steadily worked together for more than 10 years.

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He followed Manafort overseas to work in Ukraine, and later to the Trump campaign, where he was a senior aide in the future president’s inner circle.

When Manafort’s role was reduced, Gates stayed with the campaign, however, and went on to run a pro-Trump group after the election.

Gates, 45, first started as an intern three decades ago at Black, Manafort, Stone, Kelly — an influential Washington lobbying firm in the 1980s.

He started there the same year Manafort departed, according to a July profile in the New York Times.

But in 2006 he joined Manafort’s consulting firm, Davis Manafort, working in Kiev, Ukraine.

“Rick was Paul’s business guy,” Tad Devine, a Democratic operative who worked with the firm for some time, told the Times last summer.

Among the firm’s high-profile Eastern European clients was Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Moscow politician who they shaped as a reformer. Yanukovych fled Ukraine during an early 2014 revolution and now lives in exile in Russia.

Investigators have reportedly been looking at Manafort’s overseas connections — particularly investment funds and companies set up in Cyprus to receive payments.

Gates worked with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a Kremlin ally accused of having ties to organized crime, in 2008 on a deal with Davis Manafort on a botched deal for communications firms in the Ukraine, Bloomberg reported in September.

Deripaska, who has had repeated difficulty getting a U.S. visa, late sued Manafort in Cayman Islands court, parts of which were reportedly resolved.

Manafort later came under fire when it was revealed he offered Deripaska personal briefings while he ran the Trump campaign.
Gates followed Manafort to the Trump campaign, where he rose quickly.

After campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was ousted in favor of Manafort, Gates took on the No. 2 role previously held by Stuart Jolly.

He worked in tandem with Manafort during the heated end of the primary season, as Trump secured the Republican nomination.

Rumors swirled last July that he oversaw Melania Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention, which turned out to have sections lifted from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Manafort and other campaign officials said news reports of Gates’ work on the speech weren’t true.

“Rick’s not a speechwriter and he doesn’t have a role in the campaign’s speechwriting process — we have other people for that,” campaign spokesman Jason Miller told CNN at the time. “Anybody saying differently is being intentionally misleading.”

He was, however, involved in the inner circle for the Trump campaign at that time, appearing on stage as the candidate prepared for his speech before the RNC in Cleveland.

Gates was copied on emails from Trump urging them to back up his attacks on a judge of Mexican descent.

Gates’ role in the campaign was apparently so prominent that Kellyanne Conway referred to him as part of the campaign’s “core four,” along with herself, Manafort and Bannon, to the Washington Post in August.

After Manafort resigned from the campaign, Gates stayed on for weeks. He served as a liaison to the RNC, and was reported to be out of the campaign by late September.

At the time, the Washington Post reported Gates wasn’t paid during his time on the Trump campaign.

Gates went on to play a role in arranging President Trump’s inauguration committee, and was considered Manafort’s man on the inside, CNN reported in December.

He helped launch the “America First Policies” non-profit after the election with five other Trump campaign aides.

Trump digital director Brad Parscale and former Pence aide Nick Ayers were among the co-founders.

Gates was nudged out of the group in late March, after reports of Manafort’s overseas dealings — particularly with Russian figures — started to spill out.

A source told CNN the split was “amicable.”

John Weaver, a Republican strategist, told the Times in July that the ongoing probe is “the only reason Rick Gates isn’t in the West Wing and why Paul Manafort doesn’t have a thousand clients in Washington.”

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