Rick Gates on Monday took the stand in the federal fraud case against his former business partner, ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, testifying that he committed crimes while working for Manafort.
Prosecutors have been preparing for this credibility battle by asking a number of witnesses speak to Manafort's role as a supervisor over Gates. The charges largely predate his five months on the Trump campaign but were the first to go to trial arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election.
"Did you commit any crimes with Mr. Manafort?" the prosecutor asked.
The government's star witness in the trial of Paul Manafort admits he embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the former Trump campaign chairman.
But Manafort's defense team is expected to use Gates, too.
In court on Monday, Gates testified that he did steal from Manafort.
Gates is also admitting to carrying out a vast scheme to hide millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts on Manafort's behalf.
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Gates did not make eye contact with Manafort as he took the stand wearing a yellow tie and navy blue suit. It's the first of Mueller's prosecutions to reach a jury, but lawyers have made no mention of President Donald Trump or possible campaign coordination with the Kremlin. Having initially been charged alongside Manafort, Gates has since cooperated with the special counsel as part of their investigation into Russian meddling during the 2016 campaign.
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.
Laporta detailed multiple examples in which Manafort and Gates sought to doctor financial records, first in order to lower Manafort's taxable income and then later to inflate his income so that he could get bank loans.
Gates also said he lied in a lawsuit deposition years ago, after Manafort "asked me not to include" certain things in the deposition.
But Laporta's testimony raised the stakes for Manafort, legal experts said.
But she said she was under the impression that Mr Manafort had been directing his deputies' actions and "knew what was going on". Manafort attorney Kevin Downing will cross-examine Laporta, who is testifying under an immunity agreement because she feared prosecution for perjury or false statements.