Manafort co-defendant Gates shows up in court with new lawyer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Thomas Green, a high-powered defense lawyer at Sidley Austin in Washington, D.C., appeared for the first time in court on Wednesday alongside President Donald Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman Richard Gates.

FILE PHOTO: Rick Gates, former campaign aide to U.S. President Donald Trump, departs after a bond hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Green’s appearance at the federal courthouse comes at the same time that the other lawyers on Gates’ legal team have asked permission to stop representing him, citing “irreconcilable differences.”

CNN previously reported that Green was now representing Gates, though to date Green has not entered a formal appearance as counsel on the public court docket.

Gates and Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort were both indicted in late October by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, as part of his ongoing investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 U.S. election.

Manafort and Gates face charges including conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and failure to register as foreign agents in connection with their political work for a pro-Russia Ukrainian party.

They have pleaded not guilty. Trump has denied that his campaign colluded with Russia.

Gates and Manafort returned to court for a status hearing on the case on Wednesday, though large portions of the proceeding remained under seal.

One sealed hearing dealt with the request by Gates’ other lawyers - Shanlon Wu, Walter Mack and Annemarie McAvoy- to drop out of representing Gates.

After the closed hearing ended, Wu said there was no change yet in the status of Gates’ legal representation.

Later in the day, an unsealed court filing revealed that Gates is temporarily representing himself and asked the court to hold off from ruling on his lawyers’ request to withdraw until Feb. 21.

A second portion of the closed proceedings on Wednesday pertained to disagreements over bail conditions for Manafort.

Manafort remains under house arrest at his home in Florida, though the judge previously approved bail conditions that would permit him to have the home confinement lifted.

At a hearing last month, his lawyer Kevin Downing accused the judge of inadvertently setting his bond at $17 million, instead of $10 million - an allegation she denied.

Since then, Manafort’s attorneys have filed motions under seal to have the bond package adjusted.

The special counsel’s office is expected to file a redacted public version of its response to Manafort’s modified bail request by Friday.

The judge on Wednesday deferred on setting a trial date for now.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Susan Thomas and Leslie Adler