Paul Manafort's Longtime Partner Rick Gates Testifies In Federal Court

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is shown in a court room sketch as he sits in federal court on the opening day of his trial on bank and tax fraud charges stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling

Rick Gates, a longtime business associate of U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, on Monday testified at trial that he helped Manafort file false tax returns and did not disclose foreign bank accounts.

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.

The defense has accused Gates of embezzling millions of dollars from Manafort, claiming he had sweeping authority over his boss's business and personal expenses and that he abused that authority by going behind Manafort's back to deceive his bookkeeper and the accountants who prepared Manafort's taxes.

"Did you commit a crime?" the prosecutor asked - and got another "yes" from Gates.

Rick Gates has been regarded as a crucial government witness ever since he pleaded guilty a year ago and agreed to cooperate in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. In exchange for his plea, Gates agreed to testify against Manafort.

Gates did not make eye contact with Manafort as he took the stand wearing a yellow tie and navy blue suit.

Manafort's defense hinges on convincing a jury that it was Gates, not Manafort, who committed all of these crimes, and that Manafort is a victim of Gates.

Prosecutors on Monday went through a list of overseas corporations and Gates testified that all of them were controlled by Manafort and contained income earned by his political consulting work.

Manafort is on trial this week in a federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, facing charges of evading taxes on more than $60 million of income earned working for Ukrainian politicians.

At some point this week, Manafort's former right-hand man, Rick Gates, is expected to take the witness stand. Gates also worked for the Trump election campaign. Gates will follow the testimony of tax preparer Cindy Laporta, who says she came to suspect Gates was misleading her about Manafort's finances.

Instead, prosecutors called a different witness named Paula Liss.

Earlier Monday, Ellis threatened to kick reporters out of the courtroom if they continue being "disruptive". The charges largely predate his five months on the Trump campaign but were the first to go to trial arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election. During that process, Gates admitted to two felony charges, but when he testifies it will be the first time he'll detail those crimes face-to-face with his former boss and mentor.

The Manafort trial marks the first major court test for the Mueller investigation.

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