Manafort trial: Star witness details ex-Trump aide 'crimes'

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

The former deputy of Donald Trump's election campaign manager has claimed that he and his former boss hid funds in foreign bank accounts and falsified documents.

At some point this week, Manafort's former right-hand man, Rick Gates, is expected to take the witness stand. Whilst the charges against Manafort do not directly relate to Trump's presidential campaign, or any potential collusion, both Gates and Manafort were indicted as a direct effect of Mueller's investigation.

Taking the stand on the trial's fifth day, Gates admitted to helping Manafort doctor financial statements, hide foreign income and cheat on his taxes.

He testified that "at Mr. Manafort's direction", he knowingly and deliberately violated U.S. tax law by failing to disclose assets held in 15 foreign bank accounts belonging to both him and Manafort to federal authorities.

Mr Gates was Mr Manafort's partner in the consultancy.

Manafort's lawyers have signalled they will seek to blame Gates and have accused him of embezzling millions of dollars from Manafort.

Manafort's political activities were not limited to the U.S.by any means: government prosecutors are alleging that he evaded taxes on $15 million worth of income earned while promoting former Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovych.

"Did you commit any crimes with Mr. Manafort?" the prosecutor asked.

In his highly anticipated testimony, Gates admitted to filing false tax returns and setting up offshore bank accounts.

Trump hasn't tweeted about Manafort since the first day of the trial last week, and the trial itself is not about the work Manafort did on the campaign.

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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.

Andres said he was obligated to show the jury why Manafort was getting tens of millions of dollars in payments to prove it was income.

Manafort, a veteran lobbyist, has tried to get the financial charges against him dismissed and arguing that Mr Mueller has a "blank check" that he "has cashed, repeatedly".

Gates testified that Manafort told him to report overseas income as loans to lower Manafort's taxable income, supporting the testimony of his accountant. Ellis chastised the prosecutor for questioning Gates on the backgrounds of the Eastern Europeans who made payments to Manafort, saying it was irrelevant to the tax evasion and bank fraud charges. The funds were logged as loans, but Gates testified they were in fact compensation to Manafort.

As a sober Gates recited his testimony, Manafort reacted about the way you'd expect.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, who has clashed with prosecutors as he urged them to hurry up presenting their case, has largely allowed the prosecution to question Gates uninterrupted.

When the trial broke for lunch Tuesday, Manafort looked back at his wife, sitting in the front row, smiled and winked at her, followed by a quick shake of his head, seeming to indicate he was unfazed or unbothered by the morning's testimony.

Laporta said she had grown to distrust the information Gates was providing her, though she didn't know about the embezzlement.

"In most instances it was clear Mr. Manafort knew what was going on", Laporta said.

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