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Richard Gates arrives at the Prettyman Federal Courthouse for a hearing December 11, 2017. Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Rick Gates, Trump's former campaign advisor and Paul Manafort's business partner, is expected to plead guilty in the special counsel's Russia probe as soon as Friday afternoon, reports the New York Times.

Why it matters: "The plea deal could be a significant development in the investigation — a sign that Mr. Gates plans to offer incriminating information against his longtime associate and the former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, or other members of the Trump campaign in exchange for a lighter punishment." [NYT]

Timing: Yesterday, Mueller brought 32 new charges, including money laundering and bank fraud, against Manafort and Gates, strengthening his case against the former Trump aides. The men were first indicted in October, and both pleaded not guilty.

Why plead guilty now? The Times says Gates' "primary concern" is protecting his family, "both emotionally and financially, from the prospect of a drawn-out trial." Gates also has an opportunity to offer Mueller's team "a first-person account of the criminal conduct" alleged in the indictments.

The backdrop: Apart from Manafort and Gates, Mueller has secured four other guilty pleas in relation to his probe, two of which came from former Trump advisors — Mike Flynn and George Papadopoulos.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat — Study: Trump campaign rallies likely led to over 700 COVID-related deaths.
  2. World: Boris Johnson announces month-long lockdown in England — Greece tightens coronavirus restrictions as Europe cases spike — Austria reimposes coronavirus lockdowns amid surge of infections.
  3. Technology: Fully at-home rapid COVID test to move forward.
  4. States: New York rolls out new testing requirements for visitors.

North Carolina police pepper-spray protesters marching to the polls

Officers in North Carolina used pepper spray on protesters and arrested eight people at a get-out-the-vote rally at Alamance County’s courthouse Saturday during the final day of early voting, the City of Graham Police Department confirmed.

Driving the news: The peaceful "I Am Change" march to the polls was organized by Rev. Greg Drumwright, from the Citadel Church in Greensboro, N.C., and included a minute's silence for George Floyd. Melanie Mitchell told the News & Observer her daughters, age 5 and 11, were among those pepper-sprayed by police soon after.

6 hours ago - Health

Boris Johnson announces month-long COVID-19 lockdown in England

Prime Minsiter Boris Johnson. Photo: NurPhoto / Getty Images

A new national lockdown will be imposed in England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Saturday, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country topped 1 million.

Details: Starting Thursday, people in England must stay at home, and bars and restaurants will close, except for takeout and deliveries. All non-essential retail will also be shuttered. Different households will be banned from mixing indoors. International travel, unless for business purposes, will be banned. The new measures will last through at least December 2.