Published: Tue, August 07, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

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

Paul Manafort's former business partner, Rick Gates, took the witness stand on Monday for what may be the most critical testimony in Manafort's bank and tax fraud trial.

Gates, who also served on Trump's campaign, pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors under a deal that could lead to a reduced sentence.

The charges largely predate his five months on the Trump campaign but were the first to go to trial arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States election.

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Gates testified that Manafort directed him to report overseas income as loans in order to lower taxable income and that at Manafort's request, did not disclose foreign bank accounts, which is required by law.

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Rick Gates told jurors that he siphoned off the money without Manafort's knowledge by filing false expense reports.

Though he was in court to testify against Manafort, Gates offered praise of Manafort's consulting abilities, which he said brought ex-President Viktor Yanukovych "back from the proverbial political dead". With an enormous salary serving his expensive lifestyle (earlier in Manafort's trial, we learned about his taste for ostrich jackets), Manafort had a pretty good racket going on, until he plunged into debt and made the fateful decision to run President Trump's long-shot campaign in 2016.

Two documents could prove troublesome for Manafort, 69.

Gates says that when millions of dollars came in from Manafort's Ukrainian consulting work, Manafort would decide whether to classify it as income or a loan.

Gates also admitted he embezzled money from his boss - something Manafort's attorneys have alleged for months.

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Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing said Gates would be the next witness called in the federal trial in Alexandria, Virginia. When Robert Mueller began investigating Russian interference a year ago, Manafort's questionable lobbying work - the sort of activity that has historically rarely been investigated in Washington - was put under a microscope, exposing him and his associates.

Gates also said he lied in a lawsuit deposition years ago, after Manafort "asked me not to include" certain things in the deposition. In questioning Laporta on Monday, a prosecutor asked the accountant about a $10 million loan purportedly received by Manafort from Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska in 2006.

But Ms Laporta's testimony raised the stakes for Mr Manafort, legal experts 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.

Since the trial started before US District Judge T.S. Ellis last Tuesday, Mr Manafort's lawyers have kept their cross-examinations brief and at times refrained from attempting to rebut damaging testimony in detail. 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. Without smiling or pausing, he told the jury he had knowingly committed crimes "at Mr. Manafort's direction".

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Mr Manafort's attorneys have signalled they will seek to blame Mr Gates , who was Mr Trump's deputy campaign chairman in 2016. Classifying the property as a personal residence would have made it easier to obtain the mortgage at a low rate.


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