Gates returns for high-drama testimony against Manafort

Paul Manafort’s former deputy-turned-prosecutor’s witness Rick Gates returns to the courtroom Tuesday for a second day of testimony against the former Trump campaign chairman.

The testimony is poised to pack even more drama into the courtroom than the 78 minutes Gates was on the witness stand a day earlier, as Manafort’s defense team will get the chance to cross-examine Gates — and they’ve made clear the crux of their defense will be to blame Gates for Manafort’s alleged crimes.

Gates was a deputy to Manafort in his lobbying business and then on the Trump campaign, but after flipping and pleading guilty to charges earlier in February, he testified against Manafort on Monday that they had 15 foreign accounts they did not report to the federal government, and they knew it was illegal.

Gates also told jurors that he cheated Manafort out of "several hundred thousand" dollars, which is likely to be a threat Manafort’s attorneys pull on to try to undermine Gates’ credibility with the jury.

Manafort is charged with 18 counts of tax and banking crimes, and has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team indicated it expects to question Gates for three more hours on Tuesday before the defense team will get its chance to grill him.

On Monday, Gates described his history of working with Manafort, his plea deal and how Manafort’s consulting business operated in Ukraine. But there are plenty more details that were laid out in the indictment against Manafort that Gates hasn’t yet discussed that will likely be raised on Tuesday.

Gates’ testimony is expected to be the key focal point of the Manafort trial, the first that Mueller’s team has brought before a jury as part of the broad investigation into Russian election interference in 2016.

Trump hasn’t tweeted about Manafort since the first day of the trial last week, and the trial itself is not about the work Manafort did on the campaign. But Gates’ testimony pits two former senior Trump campaign aides against one another. After Manafort left the campaign in August 2016 amid swirling questions about his Ukraine work, Gates stayed on the campaign and later helped found pro-Trump advocacy group, before he was ultimately forced out, too, as questions mounted about Manafort.

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