Gates testifies he committed crimes while working with Manafort

AFP  Getty Images FILEPaul Manafort arrives for a hearing at U.S. District Court

AFP Getty Images FILEPaul Manafort arrives for a hearing at U.S. District Court

Rick Gates, beginning testimony at the financial crimes trial of Paul Manafort, said he committed crimes with his former boss.

But Manafort's defense team is expected to use Gates, too.

Manafort served as chairman of Trump's presidential campaign during the summer of 2016, and was forced out in August of that year amid news stories about his ties to then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Instead, prosecutors called a different witness named Paula Liss.

Prosecutors are trying to craft a narrative through the various vendors, bookkeepers, and accountants who have testified that Manafort, through Gates, directed his own illicit transactions.

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.

Jurors will hear again Monday from Cynthia Laporta, an accountant who testified August 3 about going along with phony, backdated documents meant to help lower Manafort's tax bills and secure real-estate loans even as his personal debt rose.

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.

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Gates pleaded guilty earlier this year as part of an agreement to cooperate with federal prosecutors.

"They probably have hundreds and hundreds of emails", the former USA prosecutor said.

"Rick Gates had his hands in the cookie jar and he didn't want his boss to find out", defense attorney Thomas Zehnle told the court in opening statements last week, accusing Gates of being "willing to say anything to save himself".

The prosecution didn't confirm that Gates, a prosecution witness, would be next.

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.

But she said she was under the impression that Mr Manafort had been directing his deputies' actions and "knew what was going on".

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

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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