Published: Tue, August 07, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Manafort trial: Star witness testifies against ex-Trump aide

Manafort trial: Star witness testifies against ex-Trump aide

Manafort's attorneys have signalled they will seek to blame Gates and have accused him of embezzling millions of dollars from Manafort.

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".

When Rick Gates took the stand in Paul Manafort's Virginia trial Monday, he quickly showed the power Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team can wield if they can get witnesses to "flip" against former friends and colleagues, a particular obsession of President Donald Trump's as the Russian Federation investigation grinds on. Testifying under immunity, she was the first witness to admit she knew accounting maneuvers Manafort and Gates requested of her were wrong and could be crimes.

Gates also testified that both he and Manafort had control over the foreign accounts, as well as Manafort's business associate Konstantin Kilimnik.

Rick Gates, Manafort's former partner in crime (literally, it turns out), took the stand to detail the many shady sides of the global lobbying business he helped the ex-superlobbyist run for years.

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Manafort has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank and tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.

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. In exchange for his plea, Gates agreed to testify against Manafort. Gates said he made the government aware of the scheme, which was not among the initial charges he faced before pleading guilty, as part of his cooperation with prosecutors.

A former top aide to President Donald Trump appeared in court Monday as a cooperating witness in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Gates also testified about how wealthy Ukrainian businessmen paid Manafort millions of dollars for his political services through wire transfers to Cyprus-based accounts that were set up for Manafort by a lawyer and local politician known as "Dr. K".

Asked whether the money in the accounts was income to Manafort, Gates said, "it was".

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Prosecutors will turn to Gates for firsthand support of their accusations that Manafort concealed millions of dollars in foreign income and later lied when he applied for bank loans. Gates said that Manafort "asked me not to include certain things in the deposition".

The prosecution's witness list still has 19 names of those who've yet to appear in court.

On Monday, Prosecutors quickly got to the heart of the case. The White House says Mr. Trump feels his former campaign chair is being treated unfairly.

Manafort attorney Kevin Downing says that Rick Gates will testify at the conclusion of the testimony of Manafort's tax preparer.

At the end of the day, the prosecutors said they expected to have three more hours worth of direct questioning for Gates.

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Later, they say, when that income dwindled, Manafort launched a different scheme, shoring up his struggling finances by using doctored documents to obtain millions more in bank loans. His testimony, given in short, clipped answers as Manafort rarely broke his gaze from the witness stand, follows that of vendors who detailed Manafort's luxurious spending and financial professionals who told jurors how the defendant hid millions of dollars in offshore accounts. When Robert Mueller began investigating Russian interference past year, 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.

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