Jack Burkman hosts fundraiser for Manafort associate Rick Gates
Friends of Richard W. Gates III held a fundraiser Tuesday at the Rosslyn, Virginia Holiday Inn and online to support the political consultant, who was indicted by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III for crimes relating to his overseas consulting.
The organizer of the event Jack Burkman apologized at the beginning of the program for Gates’ absence, because the man is under house arrest and Mueller and the judge presiding over the case refused to consent to his attending.
Burkman stood in front of the hotel’s Georgetown Room and introduced a short video Gates recorded from his home.
“I am thankful for your generosity and your kindness beyond words,” said the consultant. “By being here tonight you are giving us the tools that we will need to fight and for that, I am extremely grateful. As you may be aware, there is a gag order on the case, so I am not able to talk about the case, but I can say that because of people like you, we will have the resources to fight.”
Gates specifically thanked Burkman for believing in his cause and for assuring that supporters across the country could hear his message of gratitude.
Burkman said he was not working as Gates’ attorney, but he has donated to his defense fund and he has encouraged his lobbying clients to donate to the defense fund, too.
“I don’t want to get too political, but my personal beliefs are that our good friend Rick is really the victim of an unfair prosecution,” said Burkman, a syndicated talk radio show host, lobbyist and attorney. “I don’t like what Bob Mueller is doing. I think that believe that Mr. Gates, Mr. Manafort and Mr. Flynn have been very unfairly targeted–and I see Mueller as a desperate guy, an increasingly desperate prosecutor.”
During Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, roughly from March to August, Gates was deputy campaign chairman working with the campaign chairman Paul J. Manafort III. Mueller’s charge as special counsel is to investigate connections between the Trump campaign and officials of the Russian government. As part of his charge, Mueller is authorized to investigate other crimes that present themselves in the course of his primary investigation, and so Gates and Manafort are charged with crimes associated with their consulting for Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovych.
Gates and Manafort were jointly charged, but none of the charges were connected with the Trump campaign, let alone the collusion between the campaign and Russian officials.
Manafort’s attorney Kevin Downing gave a statement to reporters Oct. 30 outside the courthouse, where his client and Gates entered their not guilty pleas:
President Donald Trump was correct. There is no evidence the Trump Campaign colluded with the Russia government.
Mr. Manafort represented pro-European Union campaigns for the Ukrainians and in the course of that representation he was seeking to further democracy and to help the Ukrainians come closer to the United States and to the EU. Those activities ended in 2014, two years before Mr Manafort served in the Trump Campaign.
Today you see an indictment brought by the Office of Special Counsel that is using a very novel theory to prosecute Mr. Manafort regarding a FARA filing. The United States government has only used that offense six times since 1966 and only resulted in one conviction.
The second thing about this indictment that I, myself, find most ridiculous is a claim that maintaining offshore accounts to bring all your funds into the United States, as a scheme to conceal from the United States government, is ridiculous.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn pleaded guilty an “obstruction trap” sprung on him Jan. 24 by FBI agents, who asked him about his two conversations with the Russian ambassador, because Flynn did not give truthful answers about the conversation, of which the FBI already had a transcript, the general was charged with misleading an FBI agent, or obstruction of justice.
Burkman said that he did not mean for the event to become a press conference, but given the number of reporters, he took questions.
Although he disclosed that he had contributed to the Gates defense fund, he would not reveal any other contributors because Gates was in control of the fund and he could not make those decisions for him.
The talk show host said he will host and plan other events to support Gates and to put out the word about what he said was an unfair prosecution.
“When I make a commitment, I really did and I don’t stop,” he said.
Watch the entire Gates statement here: