The long-awaited trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort took a dramatic turn on Monday when former campaign advisor Rick Gates was called to testify — and boy, did he have a lot to say.
When prosecutors asked him if he and Manafort had been involved in any criminal activity, Gates replied “yes,” before going on to reveal the existence of fifteen hidden foreign bank accounts that he and Manafort had used to hide their ill-gotten gains from the federal government.
Gates then recited a laundry list of crimes that he and Manafort allegedly committed, “including bank fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, lying to federal authorities, lying in a court deposition and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Mr. Manafort’s accounts by falsely claiming expense,” reports the New York Times.
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Gates has already pleaded guilty to lying to federal authorities and is cooperating in exchange for a reduced sentence.
This does not bode well for Paul Manafort, who is accused of orchestrating a “global conspiracy” to launder and evade taxes on the millions of dollars he received doing shady lobbying work for former Ukranian puppet leader, Viktor Yanukovych. He faces 305 years in prison for 18 financial crime charges.
Manafort’s team has already tried to lay all the blame for the crimes on Gates, accusing him of “having his hand in the cookie jar.” You have to give them credit — accusing your own subordinate of embezzling the money that you so carefully laundered through foreign bank accounts after taking it from Russian oligarchs is very bold defense.
The prosecutors, however, were not impressed during the opening arguments. Pointing to things like a $15,000 ostrich jacket that was discovered in Manafort’s effects, prosecutors argued that his “extravagant lifestyle” was fueled by his secret income from Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs. “All of these charges boil down to one simple issue: that Paul Manafort lied. Manafort placed himself and his money over the law” thundered prosecutor Uzo Asuye.
Now it’s a question of who the jury is going to believe — and whether or not Manafort will turn on President Trump like Gates turned on him.
Get your popcorn, America. This is about to get good.