Rick Gates is an American political advisor and lobbyist best known as a key witness in the Paul Manafort trial and in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Prior to his legal troubles, Gates served as an advisor to pro-Russian political figures in Ukraine before serving as second in command in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Early Life and Education
Rick Gates was born Richard William Gates III on April 27, 1972, in Fort Lee, Virginia, USA. He is the son of Patricia and Richard W. Gates Jr., a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army who founded the management and information technology company Gates Group International and served as its CEO.
Gates spent his childhood in various military positions in the United States and overseas in Germany before his family settled in Prince George, a subway district of Richmond, Virginia. He attended Prince George High School, which he graduated from in 1990, before enrolling in the College of William & Mary to study government.
Rick Gates, who was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity while at college, graduated in 1994 and accepted an internship with the Washington, D.C.-based consulting and lobbying firm of Black, Manafort, Stone, and Kelly. After his time there, Gates reportedly entered the gambling business, married his wife Sarah Garnett, and earned a Master of Public Policy from George Washington University.
In 2006, Gates returned to the lobbying business and took a position with one of his old bosses, Paul Manafort, and the lobbyist Rick Davis’ firm in Kiev, Ukraine. Here, Gates worked with numerous high-ranking personalities, most notably with the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and the then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. In 2016, Gates assumed a role as deputy campaign manager for Donald Trump’s candidacy for president. After Trump’s victory, Gates became Vice Chairman of the Donald Trump Inaugural Committee.
In late 2017, long after Trump took the oath of office, Rick Gates was arrested for his role in the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and for his work with Manafort overseas.
Rick Gates Connection To Paul Manafort
Rick Gates’ relationship with Paul Manafort dates back to the 1990s when he first worked as an intern for his lobbying firm. The two later worked together as political advisors in Ukraine before serving as No. 1 and 2 in the Trump presidential campaign.
Manafort himself has lobbied for numerous other foreign leaders, including Philippine Ferdinand Marcos, Zairean Mobutu Sese Seko, and Angolan Jonas Savimbi, but it was his work with Ukrainian Yanukovych that hit him on the chest with a hammer.
The US Department of Justice requires that lobbyists who serve the interests of foreign governments must register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which Manafort and Gates have not done. The FBI, along with several other federal agencies, is said to have actively pursued criminal investigations against Manafort for his dealings with Yanukovych, who inadvertently implicated his business partner Gates.
Connection To Russia and Trump
After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the U.S. Secret Service determined that Russia was actively trying to interfere in the election process in order to create political instability among its former Cold War rival and also to damage Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning. It was said that Russia preferred the candidacy of Donald Trump, whom it felt was easier to work with than the others. Russia was able to achieve this by spreading and promoting fake news in social media and also hacking the email accounts and networks of Democratic Party officials.
After Trump took office, the FBI and the Ministry of Justice began investigating Russia’s election intervention with possible direct links between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. It was at this time that Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates became persons of interest, having previously had suspicious connections to the Eastern European nation.
Rick Gates has since become a star witness for the investigators and has agreed to testify against Manafort in order to get a fairer deal, while the investigators hope that Manafort will be able to reveal information about exactly how Russia supported Trump’s campaign.