Former Trump campaign advisor pleads guilty to charges in Russia investigation

A former top adviser to President Donald Trump's election campaign has formally pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy and false statements charges in the Russia investigation.

The plea by Rick Gates is a strong indication that he is planning to co-operate with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation as it continues to probe the Trump campaign, Russian election interference and Gates' longtime business associate Paul Manafort.

Forty-five-year-old Gates made the plea at the federal courthouse in Washington.

It comes a day after Gates and Manafort were indicted in Virginia on new charges of tax evasion and bank fraud.

Paul Manafort has insisted he is innocent Credit: AP

Manafort, who is Mr Trump's former campaign chairman, has said he is innocent.

The indictment in Virginia was the second round of charges against Gates and against Manafort.

The two men were initially charged last October with unregistered lobbying and conspiring to launder millions of dollars they earned while working on behalf of a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party.

Gates' decision marks the fifth publicly known guilty plea in the special counsel probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 campaign.

The plea followsthe indictment last week that laid out a broad operation of election meddling by Russia, which began in 2014, and employed fake social media accounts and on-the-ground politicking to promote Trump's campaign, disparage Hillary Clinton and sow division and discord widely among the US electorate.The charges to which Gates is pleading guilty don't involve any conduct connected to the Trump campaign.

They largely relate to accusation of lying to the FBI during an interview earlier this month.