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

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Manafort stared at Gates as he began his evidence by detailing the plea deal, in which he admitted to two charges, one of conspiracy against the United States, and the other of making a false statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Gates also admitted he embezzled money from his boss - something Manafort's attorneys have alleged for months.

"In Cyprus, they were documented as loans".

Gates, who is cooperating with prosecutors in the trial of Trump's former campaign chairman, testified that Manafort directed him to report overseas income as loans in order to lower his taxable income.

Prosecutors have sought to undercut this argument by repeatedly asking witnesses who dealt with Manafort and Gates about the dynamics of their relationship, trying to underscore that Manafort was the supervisor.

Rick Gates leaves a Washington courthouse in February.

Manafort's defense signaled early in the trial that they intend to blame Gates for any illegal conduct and to cast him as a liar and embezzler who can't be trusted.

The President is watching proceedings carefully as Mueller appears to be moving closer to his inner circle on multiple fronts and has complained that Manafort has been treated like a mobster - even as the White House has tried to open up some distance between Trump and his former campaign chairman.

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. By that standard, Ellis told the court, Charles Koch and George Soros would be considered oligarchs.

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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.

Gates told the jury he revealed several other crimes as part of his plea deal, including embezzling from Manafort and other employers, which were previously unknown and not included in the federal indictments against he and Manafort.

Gates said that Manafort told him to get in touch with Philip Ayliff, one of Manafort's tax accountants, but Gates said he could only reach Cindy LaPorta, another accountant who received immunity to testify last week.

Gates said that he did all of those crimes "at the direction of Mr. Manafort", CNN reported.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether any Trump aides colluded with an alleged Moscow plot to help elect him as U.S. president, and whether there was any obstruction of justice. They said Mr. Gates did everything from approve expense reimbursements to draft business plans.

Gates' testimony began on Monday and will likely continue into Tuesday, when Manafort's defense attorneys will cross-examine him.

When his consulting work dried up after the change of power in Ukraine, prosecutors say Manafort turned to using loans.

But she said she was under the impression that Mr Manafort had been directing his deputies' actions and "knew what was going on".

After nearly 5 hours of friendly questioning by the prosecution, Manafort's defense team took over and began picking apart his testimony and credibility, and Gates closed the sixth day of testimony admitting he embezzled money from Manafort, in part to cover costs of a London love nest.

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