Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates has quietly added a prominent white-collar attorney, Tom Green, to his defense team, signaling that Gates’ approach to his not-guilty plea could be changing behind the scenes.
Green, a well-known Washington defense lawyer, was seen at special counsel Robert Mueller’s office twice last week.
Green isn’t listed in the court record as a lawyer in the case and works for a large law firm separate from Gates’ primary lawyers.
Green’s involvement suggests that there is an ongoing negotiation between the defendant’s team and the prosecutors. At this stage, with Gates’ charges filed and bail set, talks could concern the charges and Gates’ plea. The defense and prosecution are currently working together on discovery of evidence.
For months, court-watchers — including Gates’ own attorneys — have anticipated additional charges against the defendants. Superseding indictments, which would add or replace charges against both Gates and Manafort, have been prepared, according to a source close to the investigation. No additional charges have been filed so far. When there is a delay in filing charges after they’ve been prepared, it can indicate that negotiations of some nature are ongoing.
The judge overseeing the case finished a drawn-out process of changing Gates’ bail condition last week. The federal prosecutors didn’t stand in the way of Gates being released from house arrest, even after they and the judge found that his assets could barely back his $5 million bail.
At a hearing last week, the judge also acknowledged that the deadlines for legal work before a trial could be different for Gates and Manafort.
“We are the least prepared of anyone here and we want to do a good job and we need that time to be able to do it,” Gates’ lawyer Walter Mack told the judge as they discussed filing deadlines. A schedule hasn’t been finalized.
The charging documents against Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos revealed that Papadopoulos emailed Manafort about his contacts with government-connected Russians and that the Russians were “open for cooperation” and wanted an opportunity to meet Donald Trump.
Gates later played a key role on Trump’s Presidential Inaugural Committee. His interactions with Trump and other prominent campaign officials could be of interest to Mueller’s prosecutors.
Green declined to comment and declined to say he represented Gates. So did Gates’ primary lawyers, Shanlon Wu in Washington and Mack in New York, citing the judge’s gag order on their case. A spokesperson for Mueller’s office declined to comment.