Six bombshells from Rick Gates' testimony in the Paul Manafort trial

Paul Manafort's associate says 'hundreds' of emails prove former Trump campaign chief directed fraud

Rick Gates testified that he stole money from former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and committed an array of crimes with his former boss.

Gates' earlier testimony on Tuesday, meanwhile, centered on how Ukrainian businessmen paid Manafort for his consultancy work.

Rick Gates has been the government's star witness in Manafort's financial fraud trial, testifying how, at the behest of his longtime boss, he helped hide millions of dollars in foreign income and submitted fake mortgage and tax documents.

Paul Manafort's former "right-hand man" admitted Tuesday that he embezzled from their consulting firm, engaged in fraud, lied to the special counsel, and conducted an worldwide extramarital affair.

Gates admitted to stealing from Manafort, but he said he did not know how much money he took. Gates also provided the first witness testimony that overlaps with Trump's presidential campaign.

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In detailed testimony this week, Gates has walked prosecutors through the step-by-step process on how he and Manafort doctored and backdated documents. That could be limited by ground rules both sides agreed to before the trial, including that Manafort's team must not assert that the special counsel's office had a political motivation. Gates recounted how he and Manafort used more than a dozen offshore shell companies and bank accounts in Cyprus to funnel the money, all while concealing the accounts and the income from the IRS. "Mr Manafort had the same path". Gates said that these loans were actually income.

Defense lawyers wrapped up their questioning of Gates Wednesday following a bruising cross-examination that focused on Gates's own crimes, an extramarital affair and a guilty plea with special counsel Robert Mueller's office that may spare him severe punishment.

"WTF", Mr Manafort wrote in response, "How could I be blindsided like this". "I'm trying to change". He told jurors how he disguised millions of dollars in foreign income as loans in order to lower Manafort's tax bill.

Gates, 46, is expected to be cross-examined for about another hour by Manafort's attorney Kevin Downing before prosecutors get a second chance to try and undo some of the possibly damaging testimony he gave during their redirect. Manafort made millions of dollars working for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians before he took an unpaid position with the Trump campaign that lasted five months.

Michael Zeldin, a former federal prosecutor, said that in Downing's remaining hour of cross-examination on Wednesday, he needs to keep painting Gates as an unreliable person who can not be trusted. She also said Manafort told Banc of California that his company made almost $4.5 million when the actual amount was $400,000. Manafort and Gates left no fingerprints. However, Gates also said the agents did not ask about tax returns and "the majority of the Cypriot accounts were closed" at the stage. Gates testified that he'd followed Manafort's instructions as they set up Cypriot and other foreign bank accounts, moved money from Ukrainians into the United States, made sure Manafort's name was scrubbed from the accounts, then lied to the IRS and banks.

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Downing outlined how Gates gave false and misleading information to the special counsel after he had entered his plea agreement.

In blistering questioning, a defense lawyer accused the protege of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of being immersed in "so many lies" he can't remember them all, as he tried to undermine the credibility of the government's star witness in Manafort's fraud trial.

Although the allegations of collusion between Donald Trump and Russian Federation are not at issue in this trial, any significant blows to the government's case are likely be seized on by the president's defenders, including conservative media, to support his contention that Mueller's investigation is a "rigged witch-hunt".

"No doubt at all", Gates replied.

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