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

Kevin Downing attorney for Paul Manafort walks to the Alexandria Federal Courthouse in Alexandria Va. Monday Aug. 6 2018 for President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Manafort's tax evasion and bank fraud trial. (AP

Rick Gates, a longtime business associate of U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, on Monday testified at Manafort's fraud trial that they committed crimes.

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

Within moments of taking the stand, Gates - seated just twenty feet from Manafort in the Alexandria, Virginia, courthouse - conceded to jurors that he aided Manafort in committing crimes.

Gates pleaded guilty in February to charges of conspiracy against the United States and lying to federal authorities.

During that process, Gates admitted to two felony charges, but his testimony would be the first time he details those crimes face-to-face with Manafort, his former boss and mentor.

"This is typically the most important testimony that a "flipper" can give prosecutors - an admission that they committed crimes along with the defendant, along with an explanation of how they did it", Mariotti tweeted on Monday.

Assistant US Attorney Uzo Asonye asked Gates, "Were you involved in any criminal activity with Mr. Manafort?"

The government's star witness in the trial of Paul Manafort admits he embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the former Trump campaign chairman.

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"Rick Gates had his hand in the cookie jar and couldn't let his boss find out", Manafort defense attorney Thomas Zehnle said during opening arguments.

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

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

Manafort is on trial here facing bank and tax fraud charges.

PHOTO: Paul Manafort arrives for a hearing at U.S. District Court on June 15, 2018 in Washington.

Juries are typically skeptical of witnesses who enter into agreements with prosecutors, said Sam Buell, a former federal prosecutor and a white-collar law expert at Duke Law School, so he said he was not surprised by the defense's strategy of going after Gates. One accounting trick saved Manafort $500,000 in taxes, she said.

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.

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