Rick Gates, testifying in Manafort trial, admits to affair, London apartment

Hugh Fox
August 8, 2018

In testimony Tuesday, Gates laid responsibility squarely at Manafort's feet for a series of crimes, saying the two had committed crimes together by stashing money in foreign bank accounts and falsifying bank loan documents.

The face off between longtime business partners Paul Manafort and Rick Gates ramped up in an Alexandria, Virginia courtroom today, as Gates admitted to having an extramarital affair and using embezzled money to fund his sins.

Mr Downing forced Gates to admit he had stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort by filing bogus personal expenses claims and that he had engaged in an extramarital affair and kept an apartment in London for that goal.

In October 2016, for instance, Gates sent Manafort DMP's profit and loss statement (P&L) from January 1 through June 30 of that year, emails introduced in court Tuesday show.

The veteran Republican operative is not on trial for anything he did while serving for three months in 2016 as chairman of Trump's presidential campaign.

"When asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Greg Andres whether Gates understood there was "some level of secrecy involved", Manafort's former right-hand man assented and added that "[Manafort] understood his name would not be represented".

Cindy Laporta, a tax accountant for Manafort, testified Monday under immunity that she helped file falsified bank loan applications for him even though she knew they were inaccurate.

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Prosecutors had braced for the tough questioning by getting Gates to come clean about his own crimes.

Downing at one point asked whether Mueller's investigators had interviewed Gates about his role in the campaign, prompting an objection from prosecutors and a sidebar conference with U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III.

Manafort and Gates were the first two individuals indicted in Mueller's investigation into potential collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

For this Manafort was paid US$4million a year, in quarterly payments of US$1million, Gates recalled, though at some point the currency switched from United States dollars to Euros.

Gates says that Manafort asked him to meet with one of the Ukrainian businessmen involved in paying him millions of dollars to find out if one of the shell companies used to pay him was a "clean entity".

The transfers would usually occur when Manafort made requests for Gates to initiate them-often through a list of to-be-sent wire transfers provided by Manafort to Gates via email.

Ahead of that barrage, Gates implicated himself in a vast amount of criminal conduct on the stand, an apparent strategic decision by prosecutors as they hoped to take some of the steam out of the defense's questioning.

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Gates (46) admitted he had embezzled from other employers; he had volunteered the information once he began cooperating.

Jurors saw emails from Manafort imploring Gates to help a banker, Stephen Calk, make inroads into the campaign, inauguration and administration.

During questioning by prosecutors on Tuesday morning, Gates said that Manafort had emailed him in late 2016 asking for the incoming Trump administration to consider tapping Federal Savings Bank Chief Executive Steve Calk for Secretary of the Army.

Manafort to Gates in 2015, "WTF?"

Mr Gates told jurors that he had been "tasked" by his boss "to determine how we could lower the taxes".

In other testimony, Gates recounted how he converted a PDF of a profit-and-loss statement to a Microsoft Word document so he could doctor it to inflate the business' income. In addition, he testified, he did not submit the required forms at Manafort's direction.

Gates undermined another of the defense's main arguments: that Manafort did not have the time to pay attention to his day-to-day expenses and personal finances.

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That testimony probably explains one of the minor mysteries of the first week of the Manafort trial.

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