Over the past two decades, Rick Gates’s relationship to Paul Manafort has been described in many ways.
The 45-year-old has been labeled Manafort’s “protege,” his “right-hand man,” even his “consigliere.”
But in the history books, the most recent term may be the most enduring: co-defendant.
Much is known about Manafort, the former lobbyist who once chaired Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. But hours after Gates was also named in a 12-count indictment alleging money laundering and violating tax and foreign lobbying laws, Gates’s backstory was beginning to crystallize in the nation’s eye.
A spokesman said Gates pleaded “not guilty” Monday and wouldn’t have further comment “until he has had a chance to review the lengthy indictment with his legal team.”
Here’s a brief history of Gates.
Gates and Manafort
The relationship between Gates and Manafort dates to when Gates was an intern at Manafort’s lobbying firm, Black, Manafort, Stone, and Kelly, according to Mother Jones,
Manafort co-founded the firm with several powerful lobbyists, including longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, but was on his way out when Gates first set foot in the firm’s office.
According to a 1991 Washington Post article, the firm “quickly developed a reputation as one of Washington’s most aggressive and controversial. It combined lobbying with campaign consulting and was often in the position of seeking votes from members of Congress for whose campaigns the firm had worked.”
According to the New York Times, Trump was a client at one point, “employing the firm to lobby the Treasury Department on casino transaction rules and to guide Mr. Trump’s ill-fated New York-Washington airline venture.”
Gates joins Manafort’s new firm
In the mid-1990s, Manafort and Richard H. Davis, a longtime Republican political consultant, formed Davis Manafort. Gates joined the firm in 2006.
Gates worked for high-ranking business executives and oligarchs in Russia, according to The Post’s Tom Hamburger, including Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with strong ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Gates acknowledged that he played a role in controversial deals involving oligarchs connected to Putin. In lawsuits involving two of them, he was listed as Manafort’s partner, though Gates said he held no equity in the firm.
In 2008, Gates took over the firm’s Eastern European duties, according to the New York Times.
The work was both lucrative and risky.
In 2007, Gates bought a $1.5 million house in one of Richmond’s wealthiest neighborhoods, more than double the price of a previous home.
In 2014, Manafort and Gates were also named in a different lawsuit alleging that they were helping a Ukrainian oligarch named Dmitry Firtash, who has ties to Putin, Hamburger reported.
The Trump campaign
When Paul Manafort was named Trump’s campaign manager, Gates became his deputy. But when Manafort was ousted, Gates stayed.
Gates managed the mundane, day-to-day operations of the campaign, according to the Times. “He traveled often with Mr. Trump and forged relationships with Reince Priebus, the future [White House] chief of staff, and Brad Parscale, the campaign’s digital director.”
But Gates stayed mostly below the public radar. His most public surfacing was during the Republican National Convention, when Melania Trump was accused of plagiarizing a speech by Michelle Obama. Gates was widely identified as the aide who oversaw the speech process.
After Trump won the presidency, Gates was tapped to help his friend Tom Barrack lead the inauguration committee — again a right-hand man who flew under the radar.
He has worked as an adviser to Barrack since March 2017, according to ABC News.
He also briefly worked for the 501(c) (4) organization America First Policies, which tried to promote Trump’s policies. He was ousted as the Russia investigation intensified.