The lawyers for former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates showed a hint as to why they’d like to quit his case Wednesday: They don’t agree with Gates.
“Irreconcilable differences have developed with the client which make our effective representation of the client impossible,” Gates’ trial attorneys Shan Wu, Walter Mack and Annemarie McAvoy wrote in a filing submitted to federal court last Thursday, which was unsealed Wednesday.
The lawyers told the court they couldn’t provide more details about their specific reasons because that could breach the privileged attorney-client relationship. They also said revealing more details could prejudice possible future jurors against Gates and are potentially “embarrassing.”
The development Wednesday does little to clear up the mystery about Gates’ fractured legal representation. Gates and the attorneys appeared in court Wednesday for about an hour.
The hearing was closed to the public, and Gates and his trial team were mum on what happened. The trial team’s proposed departure from the case comes after lawyers who’ve worked for Gates behind the scenes visited special counsel Robert Mueller’s office several times, suggesting an ongoing negotiation between the prosecutors and the criminal defendant.
Those lawyers, from the law firm Sidley Austin, have yet to tell the court they’re representing Gates, nor make any other public statements about him.
Gates has pleaded not guilty to eight criminal charges, including money laundering. Aside from having two potential legal teams, Gates could also run into financial troubles to fund his defense. Some of the charges he faces mean the government could seize millions of dollars from him. And the federal court previously acknowledged he fell short of the $5 million in assets needed to secure his bail.
The pending departure of Gates’ trial attorneys marks the third time he’s had a change in counsel. Previously, Gates had a lawyer from private law firm, with whom he cut ties just before his indictment. At his first court appearance, Gates was represented by a federal public defender, before Mack, Wu and McAvoy stepped in.