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Star Witness Gates Testifies He Committed Crimes With Manafort

07 August 2018

Manafort's attorneys have signaled they will seek to blame Gates and have accused him of embezzling millions of dollars from Manafort.

Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing said Gates would be the next witness called in the federal trial in Alexandria, Virginia.

Testifying under immunity, she was the first witness to admit she knew accounting manoeuvrers Mr Manafort and Mr Gates requested of her were wrong and could be crimes.

Similar to prior witnesses, Ms Laporta testified Mr Gates and Mr Manafort were in lockstep but that Mr Manafort was in charge.

Rick Gates, Manafort's former partner in crime (literally, it turns out), took the stand to detail the many shady sides of the worldwide lobbying business he helped the ex-superlobbyist run for years. Prosecutors allege he did not properly disclose his relations with foreign governments, and that he hid income in order to avoid his tax burden in the United States. "He said that he was indicted with Paul Manafort on bank and tax fraud charges, and he is guilty of all those charges".

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Paul Manafort's ongoing trial in Virginia, on charges that include bank and tax fraud, may be a sideshow to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's larger Russian Federation investigation, but it produced a pretty compelling moment of courtroom drama on Monday. That's what the former Trump campaign chairman's "right-hand man", Rick Gates, told jurors in Manafort's financial fraud trial.

The jury has heard how Manafort made tens of millions of dollars for work with pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

Gates also said he had filed false expense reports when he worked for Manafort as a way to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from those accounts. His case is the first to go to trial arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 USA election. He also admitted to concealing millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts on Manafort's behalf and to falsifying loan applications and other documents to help Manafort obtain more in bank loans. In exchange, the government promised not to bring additional charges against him and drop a second indictment against him on tax and bank fraud charges.

The prosecution's witness list still has 19 names of those who've yet to appear in court. But court watchers had been eagerly awaiting Gates, who both the prosecution and defense seem to be hoping will be at the center of their case.

The President is watching proceedings carefully as Mueller appears to be moving closer to his inner circle on multiple fronts and has complained that Manafort has been treated like a mobster - even as the White House has tried to open up some distance between Trump and his former campaign chairman.

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The trial opened last week with a display of Manafort's opulent lifestyle, then progressed into testimony about what prosecutors say were years of financial deception.

At the end of the day, the prosecutors said they expected to have three more hours worth of direct questioning for Gates.

His testimony represents the biggest test yet for Mueller's investigation even though this case does not directly play into the issue of alleged cooperation by the Trump campaign in Russian election interference.

Downing also accused Gates of embezzling "millions", a higher amount than Gates later admitted to in his testimony. The defense introduced its own documents to the jury for the first time - rather than relying on the prosecutors' binders of evidence - and showed that Manafort had paid $8 million in taxes over 10 years.

"In most instances it was clear Mr. Manafort knew what was going on", Laporta said.

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Star Witness Gates Testifies He Committed Crimes With Manafort