Gates testifies that he embezzled money

Rick Gates leaves federal court in Washington. Paul Manafort’s trial opened this week with a display of his opulent lifestyle and testimony about what prosecutors say were years of financial deception. But the

Rick Gates, the key prosecution witness in the tax and fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, testified Monday he had committed crimes alongside and at the direction of his former partner - and had also stolen from Manafort himself.

Gates and Manafort have known each other for two decades and ran a multimillion-dollar political consulting business.

Juries are typically skeptical of witnesses who enter into agreements with prosecutors, said Sam Buell, a former federal prosecutor and a white-collar law expert at Duke Law School, so he said he was not surprised by the defense's strategy of going after Gates. Having initially been charged alongside Manafort, Gates has since cooperated with the special counsel as part of their investigation into Russian meddling during the 2016 campaign.

When asked why had lied, he told prosecutors he had done so at Mr Manafort's request.

Gates already pleaded guilty in February to one count of conspiracy against the United States and another count of making false statements to federal investigators.

"They probably have hundreds and hundreds of emails", the former US prosecutor said.

Paul Manafort's attorney says the former Trump campaign chairman's longtime deputy will be testifying next in Manafort's fraud trial.

During opening arguments last week, the defense team made it clear they intend to blame Gates, who handled some day-to-day business operations for Manafort, for numerous alleged reporting deficiencies Manafort is charged with.

Attorneys representing Manafort have built their defense argument around Gates, painting him as the true culprit behind their client's alleged crimes and asserting that Manafort's only mistake was "placing his trust in the wrong person", referring to Gates.

Testimony from Mr Manafort's tax preparer continued on Monday.

Since the trial started before U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis last Tuesday, Manafort's lawyers have kept their cross-examinations brief and at times refrained from attempting to rebut damaging testimony in detail.

According to multiple news outlets, Gates was asked on Monday if he was involved in criminal activity when working with Manafort.

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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