Published: Tue, August 07, 2018
World News | By Joan Terry

Trump’s Ex-Advisor Rick Gates Testifies He Committed Crimes With Paul Manafort

Trump’s Ex-Advisor Rick Gates Testifies He Committed Crimes With Paul Manafort

Gates, who is cooperating with prosecutors in the trial of Trump's former campaign chairman, testified that Manafort directed him to report overseas income as loans in order to lower his taxable income.

Rick Gates, a former campaign aide to President Donald Trump, testified on Monday at his former business partner Paul Manafort's tax and bank fraud trial that he assisted Manafort in filing false tax returns.

Gates, whose testimony in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, was continuing, was expected to be a star witness in the government's case, having pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors under a deal that could lead to a reduced sentence.

While Gates already pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy against the United States and lying to the FBI, Monday's testimony marked his first time stating he committed crimes with another former Trump associate. And then he said he's guilty of other conduct, including this embezzlement, that the government didn't know about.

Gates is also admitting to carrying out a vast scheme to hide millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts on Manafort's behalf.

Aside from admitting to the false expense reports, Gates said he also created a fake letter to an investment company for a different colleague, Steve Brown.

The contents of those emails - and how Gates interprets them before the court - could help either save or sink Manafort.

Multiple accountancy and bookkeeping witnesses testified last week that they dealt with Gates in preparing Manafort's financial paperwork.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether any Trump aides colluded with an alleged Moscow plot to help elect him as U.S. president, and whether there was any obstruction of justice.

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Manafort, a flamboyant figure in Washington for decades, became known for his consulting and lobbying work for ethically questionable worldwide leaders like Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovych.

The prosecution's witness list still has 19 names of those who've yet to appear in court. The judge twice requested the lawyers to his bench, out of the earshot of the jury and the public, to discuss their approach to questioning.

Prosecutors said last week that they meant to call him to the stand before resting their case this week.

During that part of Gates' testimony, he said that he lied in a deposition - part of an unrelated case - about the private equity firm run by Manafort's consulting group.

Laporta, looking at a summary of loans to Manafort and his businesses, said she could not see any indication that the loan from Deripaska had been paid off.

"It's kind of leading up to Gates" testimony that, "Yep, this is what he was telling me to do, '" the former USA prosecutor said. She said no, explaining a technicality, and leaving the possibility hanging in the air that Manafort and his wife, who split ownership of DMP International, may not have needed to make the disclosures. During that process, Gates admitted to two felony charges, but when he testifies it will be the first time he'll detail those crimes face-to-face with his former boss and mentor.

The most critical moment in the financial fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will likely arrive this week with the testimony of his "right-hand man" - the person defense attorneys blame for any crimes.

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.

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