Special counsel Robert Mueller's star witness took the stand on Monday in the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, capping a week of contradictory messages from the Mueller team about whether Rick Gates would testify against his former boss.
Rick Gates, a former campaign official for U.S. President Donald Trump, departs U.S. District Court after he and Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort attended a hearing in the first charges stemming from a special counsel investigation of possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election in Washington, U.S., October 30, 2017.
Gates told the jury that as part of his plea with prosecutors, he revealed several other crimes that were not previously known and that were not included in the federal indictments against him and Manafort.
Among the crimes Gates testified to doing with Manafort include: knowingly hiding 15 foreign accounts from the government; stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort by filing false expense reports, which were paid from Manafort's offshore accounts; and filing false tax returns, in which the men under-reported their income, created fake loans and failed to disclose their foreign accounts. In exchange for his plea, Gates agreed to testify against Manafort.
The contents of those emails - and how Gates interprets them before the court - could help either save or sink Manafort.More news: Cleveland Browns trade WR Corey Coleman to Buffalo Bills
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Rick Gates has been regarded as a crucial government witness ever since he pleaded guilty previous year and agreed to cooperate in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
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.
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.
The most critical moment in the financial fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will likely arrive this week with the testimony of his "right-hand man" - the person defense attorneys blame for any crimes. One accounting trick saved Manafort $500,000 in taxes, she said.
Gates did not make eye contact with Manafort as he took the stand wearing a yellow tie and navy blue suit. During that process, Gates admitted to two felony charges, but when he testifies it will be the first time he'll detail those crimes face-to-face with his former boss and mentor.