Gates Takes Stand In Manafort Trial

Rick Gates the star witness in the case against Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort

The trial got off to a fast start on Tuesday, July 31, with the jury sworn in by early afternoon and opening arguments in which the defense for the first time laid out its strategy to blame Rick Gates.

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

Gates said he repeatedly lied to hide the bank accounts and, at Manafort's direction, he would classify money that came in as either a loan or income to reduce Manafort's tax burden. He said his own crimes included cheating on his taxes and lying to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents just weeks before he pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy and false statements.

Gates testified that he and Manafort had 15 foreign accounts they did not report to the US government, and knew that was illegal. Similar to prior witnesses, Laporta testified that Gates and Manafort were in lockstep but that Manafort was in charge.

Rick Gates leaves federal court in Washington, Feb. 23, 2018.

Gates took the stand Monday and has so far admitted to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from offshore accounts. Gates is expected to face 6 years in jail, despite his plea deal, whilst Manafort is facing life imprisonment if found guilty.

Trump hasn't tweeted about Manafort since the first day of the trial last week, and the trial itself is not about the work Manafort did on the campaign.

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In a reflection of Gates' importance to the prosecution's case, a cart of about a half dozen green-and-white document boxes bearing his name was rolled into the courtroom ahead of his testimony. 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. One came after a September 15, 2015, conference call in which Gates balked at the amount of taxes that Manafort's political consulting firm owed for 2014.

Gates has been described by witnesses as Manafort's right-hand man who helped run the operations of a multimillion-dollar political consulting business.

Ellis tried to hurry the prosecution along throughout the day, at one point scolding Andres as he asked Gates about Manafort's political work in Ukraine.

Gates also reportedly told the court on Monday that he had been told by Mr Manafort not to disclose foreign bank 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. Including fees, Deripaska said he paid Manafort more than $26 million. Prosecutors still said they estimate having about three more hours of questions for Gates on Tuesday before cross examination can begin. "In reality, it was basically money moving between accounts", Gates said, according to the Associated Press.

He said he was aware Manafort was acting as an unregistered foreign agent in lobbying for Ukraine.

Under cross-examination Monday, defence attorney Kevin Downing pressed Laporta on the complexities of Manafort's finances as he worked to paint a picture of a political consultant who left the details to professionals and, in particular, to Gates.

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