Rick Gates, ex-Trump aide and Mueller witness, is publishing a memoir

By Alexandra Alter

He was the star witness in the Russia investigation, whose testimony helped convict two powerful advisers to the president. Now, Rick Gates, a high-level aide on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, is preparing to tell his story in a memoir that will be published weeks before the 2020 election.

Gates, who was sentenced to 45 days in jail for lying to investigators and for his role in a criminal financial scheme, is the latest former aide to join a parade of former Trump campaign and administration officials who have published memoirs. Given his proximity to Trump’s campaign, and the evidence he provided against two of Trump’s closest advisers, his onetime campaign chair, Paul Manafort, and his onetime campaign adviser, Roger Stone, Gates’ account is likely to generate interest across the political spectrum.

The book, which Post Hill Press plans to release Oct. 13, is likely to arrive at the height of the 2020 election cycle. It comes on the heels of unflattering memoirs from John Bolton, the former national security adviser, and Trump’s niece Mary Trump that are selling briskly despite efforts by the Trump administration and family to prevent their release.

News of Gates’ book was reported earlier by Business Insider.

Other books from former Trump aides and associates are in the pipeline, including a memoir from Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, who is serving a three-year prison sentence for campaign finance violations and other crimes that were part of an effort to pay for the silence of two women who said they had affairs with Trump. Cohen’s book is tentatively titled “Disloyal: The True Story of Michael Cohen, Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump.”

Last month, Cohen, who was on furlough because of the coronavirus, said that a decision to return him to prison was an attempt by the administration to punish him for writing the book, and a judge agreed, ordering him released back to home confinement.

Gates, who has never spoken publicly about his experience on the Trump campaign apart from his testimony, is likely to face fewer obstacles to sharing his account. He never served in the administration so does not face a government review to ensure he isn’t sharing classified information. In his book, “Wicked Game,” Gates adds context to the publicized, politicized public account provided in the Mueller investigation, including information that was left out of the report, he said in an interview Friday.

Readers hoping for another explosive tell-all about the president may be disappointed. Gates said he isn’t trying to settle scores and that his book takes “a middle of the road approach,” a position that could hamper the book’s commercial prospects in a polarized media environment. At one point, Gates had a deal with a big publishing house, but it fell through because he declined to make changes that the publisher requested, including removing passages that were critical of the Mueller investigation, he said. Instead, “Wicked Game” is being released by a smaller, independent press that specializes in conservative political books, as well as business, self-help, health, military and Christian titles. Gates co-wrote it with Mark Dagostino, who has worked on books with Chip and Joanna Gaines and Hulk Hogan.

“It’s not a salacious book,” Gates said.

He added that his book will shed new light on the inner workings of the Mueller investigation, which he is highly critical of, as the book’s subtitle, “An Insider’s Story on How Trump Won, Mueller Failed, and America Lost” suggests. He describes the hard-nosed tactics prosecutors used and notes that Robert Mueller never interviewed him. Gates said he isn’t aiming to walk back his guilty plea.

“I accepted the charges, and I knew the consequences that were associated with them,” Gates said. “At the end of the day, they did find me as the most credible fact witness.”

Investigators praised him for his “steadfast” cooperation. He provided them with information about how Manafort had shared campaign polling data with a suspected Russian intelligence agent and Ukrainian oligarchs, shared his knowledge about Stone’s efforts to connect with WikiLeaks and also cooperated with investigators’ inquiry into Trump’s inaugural committee.

Given how extensively Gates assisted with the investigation, which Trump repeatedly called “a witch hunt,” his decision to publish a book about his experience may raise questions about whether he is seeking to restore his standing within the administration and the Republican establishment. Gates said he does not explicitly endorse Trump in his reelection effort in the book, and he declined in an interview to say whether or not he would support the president this year.

“I’m not writing this book for the Trump administration or at the behest of the administration,” he said.

Gates’ book is following other detailed accounts of Mueller’s investigation, which examined whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia’s 2016 election interference operation. Last year, several publishers released editions of the Mueller investigation, which is in the public domain, and hit the bestseller list. CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin has a new book, “True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump” that provides an in-depth report based on interviews with dozens of prosecutors who worked on the investigation.

Even more are on the way. Next month, Random House will release a book by Andrew Weissmann, the lead prosecutor in the special counsel’s office, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish a book about the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s election interference by Peter Strzok, a former FBI deputy assistant director of counterintelligence.

It’s unclear whether fatigue may set in among book buyers who have been devouring all things Trump, from Bob Woodward’s and Michael Wolff’s investigative accounts of the White House, to memoirs by James Comey and Andrew McCabe of the FBI, to books by administration officials and aides like Guy Snodgrass, Cliff Sims and Omarosa Manigault Newman.

For now, at least, readers seem eager for more. Mary Trump’s book, “Too Much and Never Enough,” sold more than 1.35 million copies in its first week of sales, while Bolton’s book sold more than 780,000 through its first week.

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