Rick Gates, the former associate to former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, testified in a Virginia court on Monday that the two men committed crimes together, including willfully evading taxes by not reporting income they put in foreign bank accounts in Cyprus, according to multiple reports from inside the courtroom.
A lawyer for Manafort had said in court Monday afternoon that Gates, who is Manafort's longtime deputy and is regarded as the government's star witness, would be the next witness up.
"Were you involved in any criminal activity with Mr. Manafort?" a prosecutor on special counsel Robert Mueller's team asked Gates, the key witness in the charges brought against Manafort. When prosecutor Greg Andres asked why, Gates replied: "At Mr. Manafort's direction".
Rick Gates, Paul Manafort's former business partner, is expected to testify in federal court Monday.
Gates is also admitting to carrying out a vast scheme to hide millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts on Manafort's behalf.
The jury has heard how Manafort made tens of millions of dollars for work with pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.
Gates says that when millions of dollars came in from Manafort's Ukrainian consulting work, Manafort would decide whether to classify it as income or a loan.
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Mueller is also investigating possible coordination between Trump campaign members and Russian officials in the election campaign, but the charges against Manafort do not address that.
Attorneys representing Manafort have built their defense argument around Gates, painting him as the true culprit behind their client's alleged crimes and asserting that Manafort's only mistake was "placing his trust in the wrong person", referring to Gates.
Laporta, looking at a summary of loans to Manafort and his businesses, said she could not see any indication that the loan from Deripaska had been paid off.
"It's kind of leading up to Gates" testimony that, "Yep, this is what he was telling me to do, '" the former US prosecutor said.
But Laporta's testimony raised the stakes for Manafort, legal experts said. And Gates says he also falsified loan applications and other documents to help Manafort obtain millions more in bank loans.
Under cross examination, she said at the time she believed Manafort was directing Gates' actions and "knew what was going on".