Special counsel Robert Mueller seems to have missed all the talk about his Russia investigation wrapping up in February. He just asked for an extension to keep working with arguably his most important remaining cooperator through March.
Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates continues to cooperate with “several” ongoing investigations, and shouldn’t be teed up for sentencing for at least another two months, Mueller’s prosecutors said on Tuesday.
Mueller asked a federal judge for yet another postponement to Gates’ sentencing, in a filing that presents fresh evidence the Russia investigation may not be on the verge of finishing up after all.
Recent reports citing unnamed officials have suggested Mueller’s work may be almost done, and that a final report on President Trump and Russia may arrive as soon as February. Similar reports have appeared in the media for over a year.
“To date, the status of this matter has not changed substantially since the November report,” Mueller’s team wrote to judge Amy Berman Jackson. “Defendant Gates continues to cooperate with respect to several ongoing investigations, and accordingly the parties do not believe it is appropriate to commence the sentencing process at this time.”
Gates inked a cooperation agreement with Mueller’s team in February of last year after pleading guilty to two charges — one over lying to the FBI, and the other over conspiracy to defraud the United States over the millions he earned working for the former pro-Russia president of Ukraine alongside his former boss, Paul Manafort.
Last summer, Gates took the stand to testify against Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign chairman in 2016. Manafort was found guilty and then copped his own cooperation agreement with Mueller. But he was then accused of lying to investigators in a dispute that remains unsettled.
Gates’ two charges carry a combined possible sentence of up to 10 years. Prosecutors have indicated they’ll recommend a significantly shorter sentence if he cooperates thoroughly.
Cover: Rick Gates leaves federal court in Washington, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. Gates, a former top adviser to President Donald Trump's campaign pleaded guilty in the special counsel's Russia investigation to federal conspiracy and false statements charges. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)