(COMBO) This combination of file pictures created on February 22, 2018 shows former Trump campaign official Rick Gates (L) and former Trump campaign chairman...

Another Trump aide pleads guilty, strikes deal with Mueller

At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) yesterday, far-right activists, perhaps forgetting what year it is, launched into an extended “lock her up” chant. This morning, during Donald Trump’s remarks, it happened again.

The conservatives’ timing could’ve been better.

Former campaign aide Rick Gates has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and making a false statement, becoming the third associate of President Donald Trump to make a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller.

Gates, who was indicted with former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort in October on conspiracy and other charges related to their lobbying work in Ukraine, arrived at federal court in Washington Friday afternoon for a 2 p.m. plea hearing.

The Rachel Maddow Show, 2/22/18, 9:03 PM ET

Mueller adds new piece to plot with new Manafort Gates indictment

Rachel Maddow reports on the details of a new 32-count indictment in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s cast against Donald Trump campaign aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates.
This comes just one day after Gates’ former colleague, Paul Manafort, was hit with a brand new 32-count indictment, which also implicated Gates.

Manafort and Gates, Trump’s former campaign chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, were already under criminal indictment stemming from charges brought against them in the fall. This week’s developments were additional counts, brought by a different federal grand jury.

Rachel will flesh this out in more detail on tonight’s show – yes, for those who’ve asked me, she’ll be in the chair – but let’s just take a moment to appreciate just how many people close to Donald Trump have been indicted, pleaded guilty, or both.

- Michael Flynn, Trump’s former White House National Security Advisor, has already pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials, and he’s now cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.

- Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, has been indicted by two federal grand juries on multiple criminal counts.

- George Papadopoulos, Trump’s former campaign foreign policy adviser, has already pleaded, and he too is now cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.

- Rick Gates, Trump’s former campaign vice chair, is now pleading guilty, and has reportedly made a deal with the special counsel’s team.

This probably won’t help Trump present himself as a champion of “law and order.” That’s generally reserved for presidents who haven’t surrounded themselves with criminals and suspected criminals.

Let’s also not forget that Alex Van Der Zwaan also pleaded guilty this week to lying to investigators, and last week we learned that Richard Pinedo pleaded guilty to identity fraud as part of the Russia probe, though his lawyer insisted he didn’t knowingly help Russian operatives who attacked the U.S. elections.

Donald Trump and Scandals

Another Trump aide pleads guilty, strikes deal with Mueller