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

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

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

The testimony, stretching across three days, created an extraordinary courtroom showdown between the two former Trump campaign aides who were indicted together by Mueller but who have since opted for radically different strategies: Manafort is the lone American charged by Mueller to opt for trial, whereas Gates pleaded guilty and agreed to co-operate by testifying against his former boss.

He also admitted to embezzling "several hundred thousand" dollars from Manafort including funds used to finance a London apartment to engage in an extra-marital affair.

According to Gates, Manafort, who had by then left the campaign, asked Gates in various ways to use his position on Trump's team to do favors for Stephen Calk, a banker who had loaned Manafort millions of dollars - loans that Mueller's team alleges were consummated under false pretenses. "Mr Manafort had the same path. I thought he was needlessly evasive and argumentative", said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. Attorney in MI who has been watching the trial and said she observed jurors reacting with negative body language as he testified. Gates has already pled guilty to two counts in Mueller's probe and testified against Manafort as part of a plea deal with the special counsel's office.

The trial is the first stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller's 14-month investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

"Mr Downing, I've made many mistakes over many years", said Gates, before being cut off by the judge, who snapped: "This isn't the time for that".

In one email, Manafort wrote "WTF" and "not happy" about tax payments he was going to have to make, Gates said.

Gates explained that Manafort's financial difficulties worsened in 2014, when Viktor Yanukovych was no longer in power and the Party of Regions disintegrated.

Kevin Downing, right, attorney for Paul Manafort, leaves federal court after attending the trial on tax evasion and bank fraud of the former Donald Trump campaign chairman in Alexandria, Va., on Tuesday.

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Manafort and Gates were the first two people indicted in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign. And Manafort made millions of dollars working as a political consultant for a pro-Russia party in Ukraine before he worked for the Trump campaign, which could raise questions about Trump's friendly rhetoric towards the country.

Gates, meanwhile, wearing dark blue suit, white shirt and red tie, cut a lonely figure at the witness stand, blinking hard.

Manafort's defense attorneys have sought to paint Gates as an embezzler, a liar and the instigator of any criminal conduct. Gates testified that he and Manafort knew they were committing crimes for years, saying they had stashed money in foreign bank accounts and falsified bank loan documents. However, Gates also said the agents did not ask about tax returns and "the majority of the Cypriot accounts were closed" at the stage.

At first, Gates merely noted that in March 2016 Manafort hired him to work for "one of the presidential candidates". Under the deal, he admitted to helping Manafort evade taxes, violate US lobbying laws, and hide foreign bank accounts.

On Tuesday, the court was shown a series of emails, contracts and what prosecutor Greg Andres referred to as "fake invoices", in which Gates altered the template to show the name of a shell company instead of Manafort's.

In other testimony, Gates recounted how he converted a PDF of a profit-and-loss statement to a Microsoft Word document so he could doctor it to inflate the business' income.

"I've acknowledged there was a period where I had another relationship", said Gates, who is married.

For most of his testimony, Gates did not look at Mr Manafort, while the defendant stared intently at his former partner.

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