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

That's but a drop in the ocean of the roughly $30 million prosecutors are claiming Manafort hid from the IRS.

"Did you commit crimes with Mr. Manafort?" asked the prosecutor.

The scene was less tense Tuesday when Gates resumed his testimony and Manafort's lawyers prepared to grill him on cross examination.

Prosecutors will turn to Gates for first-hand support of their accusations that Manafort concealed millions of dollars in foreign income and later lied when he applied for bank loans.

Mr Manafort has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank and tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. The charges largely predate his five months on the Trump campaign. Gates' admission, on his first day of testimony under a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, is key to rebutting the prime counter-narrative that Manafort is trying to tell the jury: that.

The jury has heard how Manafort made tens of millions of dollars for work with pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

Manafort, a veteran lobbyist, has tried to get the financial charges against him dismissed and arguing that Mr Mueller has a "blank check" that he "has cashed, repeatedly".

Prosecutors on Monday went through a list of overseas corporations and Gates testified that all of them were controlled by Manafort and contained income earned by his political consulting work. "In reality, it was basically money moving between accounts", Gates said, according to the Associated Press.

The testimony from Gates, a former adviser to Donald Trump, comes after reaching a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year to testify against his former partner in a lucrative worldwide political consulting firm. In court filings, Mueller has accused Kilimnik of having ties to Russian intelligence services, an allegation he has denied.

Gates did embezzle money from Manafort by adding money to expense reports and creating fake expense reports altogether, he admitted Monday.

Rick Gates, a former campaign official for U.S. President Donald Trump, departs U.S. District Court after he and Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort attended a hearing in the first charges stemming from a special counsel investigation of possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election in Washington, U.S., October 30, 2017.

"Mr. Manafort requested I make wire transfers from the foreign accounts", Gates said. Both cases are connected to work Manafort and Gates did for the Ukrainian government.

But Laporta's testimony raised the stakes for Manafort, legal experts said.

Gates is expected to testify for several hours Tuesday and then face a bruising cross-examination as defence lawyers try to undercut his credibility and pin the blame on him.

On Friday, a tax preparer named Cindy Laporta admitted that she helped disguise $900,000 in foreign income as a loan in order to reduce Manafort's tax burden. And there was a reason why prosecutors wanted Gates to paint himself in such a negative light on the witness stand: they wanted to get everything out in the open and demonstrate that at this point, Gates is hiding nothing and is coming clean about his crimes.

Some of the maneuvers were at the request of Gates, while others implicated Manafort, Laporta testified.

"In most instances it was clear Mr. Manafort knew what was going on", Laporta said.

  • Joey Payne