After Closed Door Hearing, No Clear Signs Why Gates’ Attorneys Want To Quit

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his wife Kathleen arrive at the Prettyman Federal Courthouse January 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. Manafort and his former business partner Richard Gates both pleaded not guilty last year to a 12-charge indictment that included money laundering and conspiracy.
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A federal judge on Wednesday considered a request from Rick Gates’ attorneys to withdraw from representing him. The hearing was under seal — meaning neither the public nor the press could sit in on it — and afterward, Gates’ attorneys indicated that they were still under gag order, so they could not say what had happened.

The hearing, which lasted about an hour, came amid speculation that Gates is switching up his legal team, perhaps in effort to come to a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Last month, CNN reported that Tom Green, of the Washington, D.C. firm Sidley Austin, had been quietly brought on and was seen at Mueller’s office multiple times. The CNN report suggested his addition to the team was a sign that Gates may be negotiating with Mueller.

Green was not spotted entering the hearing Wednesday. Rather, three attorneys seeking to quit Gates’ legal team attended, as well prosecutors on Mueller’s team and Gates himself.

Gates, a former Trump campaign aide, is facing charges of money laundering, tax evasion and failure to disclose foreign lobbying. Paul Manafort, a Gates business partner and Trump’s former champaign chair, was also charged in Mueller’s probe. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Last week, three attorneys that have been representing Gates filed a motion to withdraw from their representation of him. Their reasons were filed under seal because they involve “highly sensitive matters concerning the Defendant and public disclosure of the information would potentially be prejudicial to the Defendant,” according to their filing.

After Wednesday’s hearing, an entry was added to the case’s public docket that said that U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson had heard the matter and that motion to withdraw was “taken under advisement.”

Update: This story has been updated to include a docket entry filed after the hearing.

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