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

Gates testifies he and Manafort committed crimes

Prosecutors have called a witness other than Rick Gates in the financial fraud trial of President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

In questioning Ms Laporta on Monday, a prosecutor asked the accountant about a $10 million loan purportedly received by Mr Manafort from Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska in 2006.

Manafort, a flamboyant figure in Washington for decades, became known for his consulting and lobbying work for ethically questionable worldwide leaders like Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovych.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether any Trump aides colluded with an alleged Moscow plot to help elect him as United States president, and whether there was any obstruction of justice.

His testimony is important for prosecutors: The federal judge in the trial, U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, said in court last week they "can't prove conspiracy" in the case unless prosecutors call Gates to the stand. Ellis issued that warning after prosecutors suggested Gates might not be called to the stand after all.

When asked who was in charge in the relationship, Manafort's longtime tax accountant Phillip Ayliff told the jury: "Oh - Mr. Manafort".

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But defense lawyers are trying to convince the jury that Manafort was consumed by his consulting business and left the particulars of his finances to professionals and, in particular, to Gates. Testifying under immunity, she was the first witness to admit she knew accounting maneuvers Manafort and Gates requested of her were wrong and could be crimes.

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

Manafort's attorneys have sought to blame Gates for the financial crimes, in addition to embezzling money from Manafort.

Laporta also discussed problems that arose in February 2016 when Manafort needed cash and applied to Citizens Bank for a real-estate loan against property he owned in NY. With an enormous salary serving his expensive lifestyle (earlier in Manafort's trial, we learned about his taste for ostrich jackets), Manafort had a pretty good racket going on, until he plunged into debt and made the fateful decision to run President Trump's long-shot campaign in 2016.

On Friday, a tax preparer named Cindy Laporta admitted that she helped disguise $900,000 in foreign income as a loan in order to reduce Manafort's tax burden. Similar to prior witnesses, Laporta testified that Gates and Manafort were in lockstep but that Manafort was in charge.

One accounting trick saved Mr Manafort $US500,000 ($676,907) in taxes, she said. Mueller is also investigating possible coordination between Trump campaign members and Russian officials in the election campaign, but the charges against Manafort do not address that.

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