A former Trump campaign aide who pleaded not-guilty on charges brought against him by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is bolstering his white collar defence team, signalling a potential shift in his cooperation with the investigation.
Rick Gates, who was charged in October, has hired prominent Washington defence lawyer Tom Green, suggesting that negotiations between him and the special counsel’s office are ongoing.
Mr Green’s hiring was first reported by CNN. Mr Green is not currently listed as a lawyer on court records.
The hiring of Mr Green could indicate that Mr Mueller’s team, which is tasked with investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and to what extent Trump campaign officials were involved, could relate to negotiations over Mr Gates’ plea and the charges set against him. He was charged with eight counts of money laundering and failing to register foreign lobbying.
Court watchers have been anticipating additional charges against Mr Gates and the man who was charged alongside him, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Mr Manafort has pleaded not guilt as well.
But, no additional charges have been filed so far, even though sources have indicated that they have been prepared.
If those indictments are ready to go, it would likely indicate that there are negotiations of some sort ongoing between the two teams of lawyers.
The potential cooperation comes just after news has broken that Attorney Jeff Sessions and former FBI Director James Comey — who was fired from his post by President Donald Trump, who indicated the Russia investigation played a role in that decision — have been interviewed by Mr Mueller’s team.
Mr Sessions is the first cabinet member known to have been interviewed by the special counsel’s office. The attorney general recused himself from matters related to the Russia inquiry last year, and was reportedly urged not to do so by Mr Trump.