Gates testifies he committed crimes while working with Manafort

Gates testifies he committed crimes while working with Manafort

Gates testifies he committed crimes while working with Manafort

Rick Gates, Paul Manafort's former right hand man, has been called to testify in the trial the former chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

Gates made it through a little more than an hour's worth of questioning - which was interrupted repeatedly by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, who scolded prosecutors for certain topics of inquiry - that was focused mainly on the work he and Manafort did together in Ukraine that predated Trump's campaign.

Rick Gates has been regarded as a crucial witness for the government ever since he pleaded guilty this year to two felony charges and agreed to cooperate in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

"Did you commit crimes with Mr. Manafort?" asked prosecutor Greg Andres.

Gates is expected to be the government's star witness in its case against Manafort.

In addition to assisting in Manafort's alleged crimes, Gates told the jury he had failed to report his own income routed through bank accounts in the United Kingdom and stole several hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort by filing false and inflated expense reports related to their work in Ukraine.

Gates testified that Manafort directed him to report overseas income as loans in order to lower taxable income - an allegation prosecutors have been eliciting testimony about from witnesses since last week.

The hugely anticipated courtroom showdown brought Gates face-to-face with his longtime business associate and fellow Trump campaign aide. He said he assisted Manafort with a number of loans Manafort was seeking, and that he provided fraudulent and altered documents to support those loans. Among the tax charges Manafort is facing in Virginia is failure to report the foreign bank accounts.

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Prosecutors allege he dodged taxes on millions of dollars he made from his work for a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party.

Manafort stared directly at Gates as he read aloud the details of his plea agreement, which could see him receive a reduced sentence, at the direction of a prosecution lawyer.

Mr Mueller is also investigating possible coordination between Trump campaign members and Russian officials in the election campaign, but the charges against Mr Manafort do not address that.

Some of the manoeuvrers were at the request of Mr Gates, while others implicated Mr Manafort, Ms Laporta testified.

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.

Notably, after urging prosecutors to speed things along as jurors heard from 14 witnesses last week, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said late on August 3 that Downing could begin his questioning of Laporta on Monday and wouldn't rush him. Gates will follow the testimony of tax preparer Cindy Laporta, who says she came to suspect Gates was misleading her about Manafort's finances. One accounting trick saved Manafort $500,000 in taxes, she said. He noted that, as is common with cooperating witnesses, Gates testified to a wide array of crimes - including some that the government hadn't known about prior to his cooperation - and even minor violations, like showing up for parole 15 minutes lates. Gates said that Manafort "asked me not to include certain things in the deposition".

"We did not submit the required form designating he had control over an offshore account", Gates told the jury in federal court in Alexandria, Va., on the fifth day of the trial.

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