Rick Gates ends testimony in Paul Manafort fraud trial

After a heated cross-examination, Paul Manafort's former business associate Rick Gates completed his testimony as the prosecution's star witness. The defense team spent much of Wednesday attacking Gates' credibility.


Defense attorneys for Manafort on Wednesday seized on the prosecution's star witness, accusing Gates of violating his plea agreement by lying to federal prosecutors about how many extramarital affairs he had.

Gates, who was Manafort’s longtime business associate, had testified Tuesday that he had an affair in London, where he maintained an apartment for two months. That admission came during a line of questioning from the defense about the $2.7 million to $3 million Gates admitted he embezzled from Manafort.

During a series of redirect questions on Wednesday, Manafort’s attorney Kevin Downing asked Gates if he remembers telling special counsel Robert Mueller's office that he had four extramarital affairs.

“Objection,” prosecutor Greg Andres yelled.

Downing said an admission of that kind by Gates could lead the special counsel’s office to tear up his plea agreement, which is contingent on his truthful testimony during the criminal trial of Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman.

Gates was indicted alongside Manafort in October, but he later pleaded guilty to lesser charges of conspiracy against the U.S. and lying to the FBI as part of a deal with federal prosecutors.

Andres had asked Gates earlier if he had any doubt the government would "rip up" his plea agreement if he lied.

“No doubt at all,” Gates replied.

After Andres objected to Downing's question, Judge T.S. Ellis called the attorneys to the front of the courtroom for a conference. Downing did not question Gates further about any extramarital affairs when the cross-examination resumed.

Manafort has been charged with bank and tax fraud stemming from Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

The trial marks the first courtroom test for Mueller's probe, which President Trump has repeatedly referred to as a "witch hunt."

Prosecutors are working to prove that Manafort hid millions he made working as a consultant for pro-Russia politicians in the Ukraine from the IRS in overseas accounts and submitted false documents to obtain bank loans when the money dried up in 2015.

Gates testified Tuesday that he helped Manafort inflate his income in 2016 to obtain loans. In cross-examination by the defense on Wednesday, Downing asked if Gates knew Manafort had a net worth of $20 million around that time.

Gates said he was not aware of an accounting of his former boss’s personal assets, but thought his net worth was about $6 million to $10 million at the time.

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