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

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Rick Gates, Paul Manafort's former deputy, testified on Tuesday that he helped Manafort provide false information to banks in order to obtain loans.

Paul Manafort's former business partner Rick Gates testified today that he committed crimes with Manafort. Gates has confessed to two felony charges as part of his plea bargain agreement with the team of special counsel Mueller, and Manafort's defense attorneys have tried to paint Gates as a shameless, sleazy opportunist who will say anything to save his own skin.

"In most instances, it was clear that Mr. Manafort knew what was going on", she said.

When prosecutor Greg Andres asked why, Gates replied: "At Mr. Manafort's direction".

Gates admitted on Monday that he did steal money through inflated expense reports, but he said it was hundreds of thousands of dollars, not millions as defense lawyers stated.

Mr Gates, who first met Mr Manafort working for him as an intern fresh out of college, has been described by witnesses as his right-hand man in his multimillion-dollar political consulting business.

The jury heard testimony on Friday and Monday (local time) from accountant Cynthia Laporta, who described how Mr Manafort and Mr Gates doctored financial statements and backdated loans.

Manafort then paid Gates out of Cryprus-based bank accounts illegally concealed from the United States government, Gates testified, according to CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz.

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Prosecutors say this work resulted in earnings of around $60m (£46m) and that a "significant percentage" of this was omitted from Manafort's income tax returns. President Trump has previously spoken of the Mueller investigation, referring to it as a "witch-hunt", and reiterating that Manafort only worked for his campaign for a few months.

He also said Manafort helped four Ukrainian businessman elect a pro-Russia president in Ukraine in 2010 in exchange for millions that were paid to Manafort through shell companies.

Manafort, a veteran lobbyist, has tried to get the financial charges against him dismissed and arguing that Mr Mueller has a "blank check" that he "has cashed, repeatedly".

During the testimony, Manafort did not stare Gates down as he did on Monday. Similar to prior witnesses, Laporta testified that Gates and Manafort were in lockstep but that Manafort was in charge.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, who has clashed with prosecutors as he urged them to hurry up presenting their case, has largely allowed the prosecution to question Gates uninterrupted.

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

When the trial broke for lunch Tuesday, Manafort looked back at his wife, sitting in the front row, smiled and winked at her, followed by a quick shake of his head, seeming to indicate he was unfazed or unbothered by the morning's testimony. Testifying under immunity, she was the first witness to admit she knew accounting manoeuvres Manafort and Gates requested of her were wrong and could be crimes.

Under cross examination on Monday, defence attorney Kevin Downing attempted to show that Gates was the point person in dealing with the accountants.