A source has told CNN that the special counsel was laser-focused on what a former Trump campaign aide knew about the communication between the campaign and Russia. That aide, Rick Gates, was also a business partner of Paul Manafort. But Mueller’s team said they didn’t necessarily need Gates’ help pinning Manafort down. CNN writes:
They told him they didn’t need his cooperation against Manafort, according to a person familiar with the investigation, and instead wanted to hear what he knew about contact between the Trump campaign and Russians.
The account jibes with a Mueller court filing earlier this week asserting that Rick Gates had contact during the campaign with an unnamed individual who was a former Russian intelligence officer and continued to have contact with Russian intelligence during the 2016 election. The revelation was one of clearest demonstrations yet of a connection that potentially ran straight from the Kremlin back to Team Trump.
Whatever Gates was able to provide to Mueller, it must be worth something.
As part of Gates’ agreement to cooperate with the special counsel a month ago, he earned a vastly reduced potential sentence and had several charges dropped in two criminal cases against him.