- The Washington Times - Monday, August 6, 2018

Rick Gates said Monday he and former business partner Paul Manafort did commit fraud together, as the key witness finally took the stand in the Russia probe special counsel’s first case to go to trial.

Mr. Gates, though, also admitted to having embezzled from Mr. Manafort during their time as partners working for foreign clients, in an admission that could hurt the government’s attempt to label Mr. Manafort the mastermind of the alleged fraud.

Mr. Gates took the stand Monday afternoon and, asked directly if they committed crimes, he answered “Yes.”

He said he hid foreign bank accounts with millions of dollars in them from U.S. Treasury Department officials and Mr. Manafort’s direction, backing the government’s contention that Mr. Manafort, a onetime chairman of the 2016 Trump campaign, knowingly committed bank and tax fraud.

But Mr. Gates, who was also on the Trump campaign, acknowledged he embezzled money from Mr. Manafort by filing false expense claims.

Mr. Gates has pleaded guilty to deceiving federal investigators and is working with the special counsel’s office against his former boss, Mr. Manafort.

His testimony comes after several days of accountants detailing the extent of fraud to the jury.

Mr. Manafort’s legal team has argued that he was duped by Mr. Gates.

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