Trump campaign official Gates will have sealed hearing in Washington court on his lawyers bid to withdraw in Mueller probe

Key Points
  • Trump campaign official Rick Gates is scheduled on Friday to have a sealed court hearing in Washington on his lawyers' request to withdraw from representing him.
  • There have been reports that Gates was on the verge of pleading guilty in a case brought by special counsel Robert Mueller.
  • Gates and his co-defendant, former Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort, are accused of conspiracy to commit money laundering, lying to federal investigators and failure to register as foreign agents.
Trump campaign official Gates to have sealed hearing on lawyers' bid to withdraw in Mueller probe
Trump campaign official Gates to have sealed hearing on lawyers' bid to withdraw in Mueller probe

A federal judge has scheduled a hearing for Friday on a request by lawyers for Rick Gates to withdraw from representing the top Trump campaign official in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

The sealed hearing schedule was disclosed Thursday, a day after reports emerged that Gates and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort were hit with additional charges. The new charges, which were sealed, are on top of the ones they were already facing, which include conspiracy to commit money laundering, lying to federal investigators and failure to register as foreign agents.

The grounds for the withdrawal request by Gates' lawyers was sealed when it was filed Feb. 1.

One of the lawyers, Walter Mack, declined to comment to CNBC when asked about a report that Gates had visited Washington federal court Wednesday to drop off a filing in his case.

Gates and two other lawyers representing Gates are scheduled to appear 10 a.m. ET Friday in the courtroom of Judge Amy Jackson, according to a filing posted Thursday morning.

On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported that Gates planned to plead guilty and cooperate with Mueller's team in their prosecution of Manafort.

Mueller is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, as well as possible links between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign and other issues that have come to light during the probe.

Gates and Manafort are accused of seeking to hide tens of millions of dollars in income from work they did in Ukraine by laundering the money through multiple foreign and U.S. entities from 2006 through at least 2016. They also are accused of not disclosing their work on behalf of Ukrainian political parties, as legally required.

On Tuesday, a former associate at New York law firm Skadden, Arps pleaded guilty to lying to federal authorities about his communications with Gates, among other things.

Alex van der Zwaan, who is also the son-in-law of a Russian oligarch, had worked while at Skadden's London office on a report arranged by Manafort's firm about the incarceration of Ukrainian nationalist politician Yulia Tymoshenko.

Last week, Gates filed a motion on his own, without his lawyers, asking the court not to rule on that request by his attorneys until Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier Wednesday, multiple outlets reported that new criminal charges have been filed under seal against Manafort and Gates. The development follows the special counsel's recent discovery of alleged "additional criminal conduct" mentioned in a court document sent from the prosecutor's office Friday.

Manafort and Gates were accused in that filing of "a series of bank frauds and bank fraud conspiracies." Some of those alleged bank frauds are related to properties that Manafort wants to pledge as collateral in lieu of a $10 million bail bond.

Also Wednesday, NBC News reported that Mueller is investigating whether Manafort promised to get a Chicago banker a job in the White House in exchange for $16 million in loans.

The story said Manafort obtained three separate loans from Federal Savings Bank of Chicago between December 2016 and January 2017 for his homes in New York City and the Hamptons section of Long Island.

The president of Federal Savings Bank, Stephen Calk, in August 2016 was named as a member of then-candidate Donald Trump's council of economic advisors.

Mueller's investigators are probing whether there was an arrangement between Calk and Manafort related to the loans, according to NBC News, which cited two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

According to the filings by Mueller's office last week, Manafort is alleged to have acquired a mortgage for the house in Virginia "from The Federal Savings Bank through a series of false and fraudulent representations to The Federal Savings Bank."

Calk never received a job in the White House.

Mueller's office and lawyers for Manafort did not respond to requests for comment from CNBC.

Calk's bank, in an emailed statement, said, "The Federal Savings Bank is aware of recent press reports attributed to unnamed 'sources' implying that Paul Manafort obtained loans in exchange for a promise of a position in the Trump Administration. Those reports are simply not true."

"The Federal Savings Bank has been fully cooperating with the Special Counsel throughout his investigation and will continue to do so," the bank said.

Correction: An earlier version incorrectly identified Gates' co-defendant in one reference.