The trial of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort took a decisive turn on Monday when his former business partner — and Trump’s Deputy Campaign Manager — Rick Gates, took the stand to testify against him.
Despite efforts by Manafort’s defense team to paint Gates as having swindled Manafort without his knowledge, when asked by federal prosecutors if he’d committed a crime with Paul Manafort, Gates answered in the affirmative.
Rick Gates has taken the stand in the Manafort case.
Prosecutor Uzo Asonye asked, "Were you involved in any criminal activity with Mr. Manafort?" Gates answered, "Yes."
"Did you commit any crimes with Mr. Manafort?" Asonye said.
"Yes," said Gates.
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) August 6, 2018
Gates testified that, under orders from Manafort over a number of years, he made wire transfers from offshore accounts and didn’t report them, as well as failing to file a foreign bank account record. He also admitted to stealing from Manafort and others.
Gates’s testimony is crucial to the Special Counsel’s case. Federal Judge T.S. Ellis III warned the prosecutors that the bar for conviction is high, and that they wouldn’t be able to prove conspiracy if Gates didn’t take the witness stand.
The testimony is making waves across social media.
I have seen some cold stares in my life but watching Paul Manafort stare down his former deputy, arms crossed, as Rick Gates recounted the long list of his alleged crimes was remarkable. #ManafortTrial
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) August 6, 2018
In court now:
Prosecutor on Mueller’s team asks Rick Gates if he committed crimes with Paul Manafort.
“Yes,” Gates says.
First time a senior Trump campaign official has confessed to a crime on the stand.
— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) August 6, 2018
Rick Gates testifies that he and Paul Manafort had 15 foreign accounts they did not report to the federal government, and knew it was illegal. He said he did not submit the required forms "at Mr. Manafort's direction."
— David P Gelles (@gelles) August 6, 2018
Rick Gates, who just confessed under oath to knowingly committing dozens of crimes with Paul Manafort, was the #2 ranking official in the Trump campaign.
He ran the day to day operations.
After Trump was elected he was on the inaugural committee.
Helped form Trump's PAC.
— Shaun King (@shaunking) August 6, 2018
Unlike Gates, Paul Manafort pleaded “not guilty” last year to numerous charges of conspiracy and fraud. Gates’s words in court on Monday are the latest in what’s been a tempestuous road for Manafort since his indictment in October 2017.
Though Manafort had been ordered to house arrest at his home in Alexandria, Virginia to await trial, Special Counsel Robert Mueller accused Manafort of subsequently attempting to tamper with witnesses he’d been corresponding with via WhatsApp and other encrypted messaging services.
As a result, he was ordered to jail by District Judge Amy Berman Jackson.
It’s important to note that none of Manafort’s charges focus on his consultation work in Ukraine, and not his actions during the Trump campaign. However, many are noting that the Manafort trial and its subsequent developments paint a foreboding picture for the Trump administration.
Trump’s Deputy Rick Gates just said during his testimony that Trump’s campaign chair Paul Manafort ordered him to commit bank and tax fraud. If you say this trial has nothing to do with Trump, then you’re a liar. This is more proof Trump can’t be trusted. Get him out of the WH!
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) August 6, 2018
Rick Gates, a former senior Trump advisor, testified that he knowingly committed crimes with Paul Manafort, another Trump advisor.
You want me to believe that two of Trump’s top advisors were involved in deals with foreign countries, and he didn’t know?? No way. BS. Trump knew.
— emilia (@PoliticalEmilia) August 6, 2018
Just remember after Manafort shifted to a loss in 2015 and had his accountant lie about income to save hundreds of thousands of taxes, he also, coincidentally, thought it would be a good idea to work for Trump’s campaign for free.
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) August 6, 2018
As Rick Gates confesses to all sorts of crimes committed under direction of "Mr Manafort," it's important to recall HOW MUCH Paul Manafort did to help trump…
…including the hand-picking of Vice Traitor Mike Pence.
Thanks for the reminder, Shammity! https://t.co/GoI0P5mEAV
— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) August 6, 2018
In addition to Gates’s crucial testimony, prosecutors have also highlighted Manafort’s excessive spending to emphasize the level of wealth he’d been able to achieve through his work for foreign agents and alleged tax fraud. Manafort’s purchases included a $21,000 watch and a $15,000 ostrich coat.
Though the trial is addressing Manafort’s dealings in Ukraine, the work he was assigned to there falls into what’s becoming a popular narrative regarding the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia. Manafort was hired by pro-Russian entities to make Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych electable. Manafort was paid around $600,000 a month to do so. Despite a gruff demeanor and violent tendencies, Yanukovych was elected in 2010. He would later be overthrown and flee to Russia.
It’s unclear as to how damning revelations from the Manafort trial will be to the Trump administration. But when one high-ranking campaign official has pled guilty and testifies in the trial against another official of the same campaign, positive developments are sure to be scarce.