Former Trump campaign official Rick Gates has fired his lawyer, The Daily Beast has learned. And, contrary to recent media reports, Gates is not about to make a deal with the Special Counsel Robert Mueller, according to sources familiar with the matter.
CNN and The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this month that Gates was on the cusp of signing a plea deal with Muellers team, and noted that Gates lawyerTom Green of Sidley Austinis known for his work negotiating such pleas. If Gates had started cooperating with Mueller, it would certainly have been a boon to the prosecution.
Instead, Gatesfor the time being, at leastisnt flipping. And Green is out, replaced with Barry Pollack, of Miller Chevalier, according to sources familiar with the matter. Neither Green nor Pollack immediately returned a request for comment, however Green told Chris Geidner of Buzzfeed after the publication of this story, It is ludicrous and I am representing him. When asked if he will continue to represent, Green told The Atlantic's Natasha Bertrand, Yes indeed.
It is true that Green is named on a court filing that went up lateon Thursday, and he will appear in courttomorrow. It may take a day or two for his formal relationship with Gates to legally unravel, multiple sources tell The Daily Beast.
Over the years, Gates has operated closely with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. (In his October indictment for money laundering, Mueller described Gates as Manaforts right-hand man.) Together, they worked for Viktor Yanukovich, the Putin-friendly former president of Ukraine. That workfor which the duo allegedly received millions in secret paymentsgenerated controversy during President Donald Trumps campaign, and ultimately contributed to Manaforts firing from Team Trump. It also drew the special counsels attention.
A grand jury indicted both men on a number of charges last October, including conspiracy against the United States. The charges were related to their work in Ukraine, and included allegations of sophisticated financial crimes.
On Thursday, the special counsels team filed a new indictment against Gates and Manafort in federal court in Virginia. It alleges that Gates and Manafort lied to lenders about their finances and concocted a real estate scheme so they would have more liquidity. By deceiving lenders, they received millions of dollars in loans, according to the indictment.
Significantly, this new indictment documents allegedly illicit financial activity from the time Gates and Manafort both worked on the Trump campaign.
Muellers new indictment also charges that Manafort and Gates failed to tell the IRS that they had money in foreign bank accounts. Under federal tax law, people filing their tax returns must check a box if they have assets in bank accounts located overseas. Neither Manafort nor Gates did this, according to the indictment.
Over the course of decades, Manafort and Gates established over 30 domestic and foreign entities with which to receive and move more than $75 million worth of cash outside the watchful eye of the IRS, according to Muellers new indictment. Gates alone obtained more than $3 million from these accounts, per the indictment.
Gates was deeply involved in eye-opening deals involving powerful Kremlin-connected figures. In 2008, Manafort and Gates attempted to purchase New Yorks Drake Hotel with assistance from Vladimir Putin ally and Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska who directed scads of money Gates and Manaforts way and a Kremlin-tied Ukrainian gangster, Dmitry Firtash. Gates wrote memos to Deripaska aides urging them to lock in the deal for the hotel, even volunteering to travel to Moscow if necessary.
The deal never came through. Within a couple years, Gates and Manafort stiffed Deripaska for what the oligarch claims is $19 million. Deripaska wrote in a 2015 court filing: It appears that Paul Manafort and Rick Gates have simply disappeared.
By then, however, Manafort and Gates were rich men off work they had done for Ukraines pro-Russia Party of Regions. Among their assignments was to commission a report from a Democratic-connected law firm, Skadden Arps, whitewashing the party-controlled governments decision to jail a political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko. Skadden lawyers formally received the conspicuously small fee of $13,000 for transcontinental work. Muellers October indictment of Manafort and Gates alleged that the two men used one of their offshore accounts to funnel $4 million to pay secretly for the report.
Just days before Muellers new indictments, Mueller secured a different plea from a Skadden attorney named Alex van der Zwaan. He worked on Skaddens Manafort-funded Tymoshenko report. And one thing van der Zwaan lied about to the Bureau: communications he had with Rick Gates.
Update, 2/22/18, 8:04 p.m.: This story has been updated with Greens comments.
Correction, 2/22/18, 8:04 p.m.: This story previously said Gates and Manafort were indicted in December.
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