Rick Gates Testifies He Committed Crimes While Working For Manafort

Update: Gates later testified that even while he was committing crimes with Manafort, he had control over some of their Cyprus-based bank accounts with Manafort's money, and siphoned hundreds of thousands of dollars out without Manafort's knowledge.

“I added money to expense reports and created expense reports” that were not accurate, Gates said, to pad his salary by “several hundred thousand” dollars.

Gates, 46, testified that he had embezzled from other employers as well and that he volunteered that information to investigators once he began cooperating with Mueller’s team.

Gates said he told prosecutors he had lied in a deposition in a civil case against Manafort involving a private equity fund.

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Repeatedly, Gates insisted that most of his crimes were committed at Manafort’s explicit instruction. At one point, he rattled off the names of a dozen overseas companies he said Manafort controlled; on prompting from prosecutors he identified three more. The money in them “came from income from political consulting in Ukraine,” he said. -WaPo

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Paul Manafort testified on Monday against his former boss, Paul Manafort - telling the Virginia court that he committed crimes while working for the former Trump campaign aide. 

“Were you involved in criminal activity when you worked for Paul Manafort?” asked federal prosecutor Greg Andres.

“Yes,” Gates replied.

Did you commit a crime?” Andres asked.

Yes,” Gates said.

Gates, a 45-year-old father of four became the star witness against his former boss in February, following several weeks of legal turmoil in which his original lawyers suddenly withdrew as council. Weeks later, Gates hired attorney Thomas C. Green, a personal acquaintance of special counsel Robert Mueller. 

Gates' testimony is vital to the case, according to the Judge in the trial, US District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III - as the prosecution "can't prove conspiracy" unless Gates can be called to the stand. Ellis said this after prosecutors suggested Gates may not in fact testify. 

Manafort has not pleaded guilty to charges which include bank fraud related to his work in Ukraine. The former Trump aide's legal team is focusing blame on Gates - "who handled some day-to-day business operations for Manafort," according to Fox News

“Rick Gates had his hand in the cookie jar and couldn’t let his boss find out,” Manafort's defense attorney Thomas Zehnle claimed during opening arguments.

Prosecutors have introduced a bevy of exhibits and are in the process of calling several witnesses as part of their effort to paint Manafort as a tax scofflaw who failed to report money spent on luxury items -- then lied to get bank loans when his foreign consulting work dried up.

Prosecutors have introduced a bevy of exhibits and are in the process of calling several witnesses as part of their effort to paint Manafort as a tax scofflaw who failed to report money spent on luxury items -- then lied to get bank loans when his foreign consulting work dried up. -Fox News

Earlier Monday, Judge Ellis threatened to boot reporters from the courtroom after they began rushing out into the hallway to report that Gates would testify. “If you cause a disruption, I will have you excluded!” Ellis said.

Also expected to testify is former Bernie Sanders campaign senior strategist, Tad Devine, who worked with Manafort on the 2010 campaign of now-former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych. The pro-Russian leader fled the country in 2014 following the Ukrainian revolution. 

Devine’s consulting firm Devine Mulvey Longabaugh, maintains that they did nothing illegal in their work with Manafort on Yanukovych’s campaign. The firm says they are not at risk of legal jeopardy, according to a statement provided to the Washington Post.

In the statement, Devine Mulvey Longabaugh says special counsel Robert Mueller asked Devine “to assist in the prosecution of their case against Paul Manafort regarding his firm’s work on media consulting on past political campaigns in Ukraine.” -Mic

We have been assured by the special counsel’s office that we have no legal exposure and did not act unlawfully,” the firm said in the statement to the Washington Post. “After the administration of the presidential candidate we had worked for arrested his political opponent [Yulia Tymoshenko in 2011], we quit. We then declined additional offers to work on his later campaigns.” 

The Manafort trial is expected to last approximately three weeks.