Special counsel Robert Mueller is on board with a request from former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates to secure several new freedoms as he continues cooperating with the lead Russia investigator and awaits sentencing as part of his guilty plea.
Gates’ attorney Tom Green filed the unopposed motion Thursday asking a federal judge to let the longtime Republican operative remove his electronic GPS monitoring device, eliminate his 11 p.m.-7 a.m. curfew and allow him to more freely travel to Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The additional freedoms should be granted in exchange for Gates’ ongoing cooperation with both Mueller and other federal investigators “by attending current meetings at which he provides additional information,” Green wrote.
“In short, Mr. Gates has been a model cooperating witness — making himself available to federal authorities whenever they have requested his assistance,” Green wrote. “For these many reasons we believe this court can conclude with confidence that Mr. Gates will appear at every call of court and that he is deserving of the relief requested.“
It’s unclear if U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson will approve the proposal, even with Mueller’s sign off. The Washington-based judge rejected an earlier Mueller-approved request to let Gates stop wearing the GPS device in March, saying at the time that his “change of heart is quite recent” after initially pleading not guilty to a series of charges including money laundering, bank fraud and conspiracy.
Gates pleaded guilty in February to felony charges of conspiracy and making false statements, agreeing to provide “substantial assistance” to the government in exchange for the chance of a more lenient sentence than the roughly four and a half to six years likely under federal sentencing guidelines.
As part of the deal, the 46-year-old former Trump deputy campaign aide met repeatedly with Mueller investigators and then testified against his former boss, Paul Manafort, during an August trial in Alexandria, Va. There, Gates incriminated Manafort in a multimillion-dollar tax evasion, bank fraud and offshore bank account scheme.
Manafort, who has since pleaded guilty and is now cooperating with the Mueller prosecutors, tried during the trial to blame Gates for the crimes. While on the stand, Gates admitted to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars while on Manafort’s payroll over a decade. Defense lawyers also got Gates to confess to an extramarital affair while testifying.
One of the Manafort jurors from Virginia who spoke publicly after the trial told FOX News that the jury struggled with Gates’ testimony and decided not to consider it during their deliberations, which ended with eight guilty counts but a mistrial on 10 other charges.
In Thursday’s motion, Gates attorney cited his client’s testimony at the Manafort trial as reason for Jackson to give him greater leniency.
“That process was especially painful for Mr. Gates, and much of that pain was anticipated as he took the stand to testify. But that was part of his bargain with the government, and he accepted the consequences,” Green wrote.
The new arrangement Green proposes includes weekly check-ins with court officials from his home, via his home telephone landline. He said that change “will surely not increase the risk of flight or make it less likely that Mr. Gates will appear in Court when required to do so.
“On a much more personal note, removing the GPS monitor will contribute to the process of healing in the Gates household which is on-going,” Green added.