Rick Gates Testifies That He Committed Crimes With Paul Manafort

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Paul Manafort's former deputy Rick Gates took the stand Monday and admitted to committing crimes with his then-boss.

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

Rick Gates has been regarded as a crucial government witness ever since he pleaded guilty past year and agreed to cooperate in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

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

Manafort's defense hinges on convincing a jury that it was Gates, not Manafort, who committed all of these crimes, and that Manafort is a victim of Gates.

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Gates, a longtime business associate of Manafort's, was indicted on fraud charges in October but later pleaded guilty to reduced charges as part of a plea deal.

"This is typically the most important testimony that a "flipper" can give prosecutors - an admission that they committed crimes along with the defendant, along with an explanation of how they did it", Mariotti tweeted on Monday. Another special counsel prosecutor, Greg Andres, later clarified that prosecutors had "every intention" of calling Gates to the stand.

Similar to prior witnesses, Laporta testified that Gates and Manafort were in lockstep but that Manafort was in charge.

Aside from admitting to the false expense reports, Gates said he also created a fake letter to an investment company for a different colleague, Steve Brown.

In a court filing on Monday, prosecutors said they may call Federal Bureau of Investigation forensic accountants Morgan Magionos and Renee Michael to read from Manafort's emails.

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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.

Attorney Thomas Zehnle accused Gates of embezzling money from Manafort's consulting firm and said that Gates was now agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors to cover his tracks.

Earlier Monday, Ellis threatened to kick reporters out of the courtroom if they continue being "disruptive".

Under cross examination, she said at the time she believed Manafort was directing Gates' actions and "knew what was going on".

Assistant US Attorney Uzo Asonye asked Gates, "Were you involved in any criminal activity with Mr. Manafort?" It's the first of Mueller's prosecutions to reach a jury, but lawyers have made no mention of President Donald Trump or possible campaign coordination with the Kremlin.

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