Rick Gates admits to ‘crimes’ committed with Paul Manafort
‘Star witness’ says former Trump campaign chairman was unregistered foreign agent
Rick Gates, the long-time business partner of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has testified in court that he helped Manafort commit a number of crimes while the pair worked together.
Manafort’s trial is the first to arise from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian inerference in the 2016 US presidential election.
Gates has reached a plea deal with prosecutors, which includes testifying against Manafort over his role in the alleged crimes.
Prosecutor Greg Andres reportedly wasted little time getting to the heart of his questioning of Gates. “Did you commit crimes with Mr Manafort?” Andres asked, to which Gates replied: “Yes.”
Taking the witness stand, Gates “admitted to helping Manafort doctor financial statements, hide foreign income and cheat on his taxes”, Reuters reports.
Gates’ testimony included that he had, under Manafort’s direction, hidden 15 foreign bank accounts from US authorities, even though the pair knew it was illegal to do so.
Gates also told the court that Manafort had been operating as an unregistered foreign agent while working as a lobbyist for former pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.
The Washington Post reports that “even while he was committing crimes with his boss, he was also stealing from him”. Gates confessed to taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort and others over the years.
CNN says that admission by Gates will be central to Manafort’s defence strategy, with the former Trump campaign chairman’s legal team “arguing during opening statements that he embezzled millions of dollars from Manafort and then turned against him under pressure from Mueller”.