The next witness up in the case of Trump 2016 campaign manager Paul Manafort is a man that the lobbyist for pro-Russia forces in Ukraine at one point thought he could rely on: His longtime business partner — and partner on the Trump campaign — Rick Gates.
Gates was among the first to simply accept his fate at the hands of the Special Counsel and plead guilty back in February to two criminal charges related to money laundering. His central role in the campaign and the presidential transition team make him a star witness after it was clear that he had exchanged cooperation for a reduced sentence.
At the time, Manafort was perplexed and dismayed, telling the media the same day that he continued to maintain his innocence despite Gates’ plea, and adding:
I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence. For reasons yet to surface he chose to do otherwise. This does not alter my commitment to defend myself against the untrue piled up charges contained in the indictments against me.”
That attitude has extended well into Manafort’s criminal trial. When presented with evidence of forged documents in recent weeks that prosecutors suspected the pair of using to falsify loan applications in order to fraudulently fund their lavish lifestyles, Manafort and his legal team essentially pawned it all off on Gates, even commenting on Gates’ spelling ability in the case of one receipt from “Alan Corture” (instead of Alan Couture) that was falsely billed to a legitimate business in Manafort’s name.
At this point, Manafort should basically expect Rick Gates to give him up completely. Manafort’s refusal to admit guilt has only redoubled the prosecution’s intent to present an airtight court case against him, and he would do well to buckle up for what promises to be a very uncomfortable few days of testimony.
Politico reports that it was Gates’ own lawyer who informed the public of his scheduled appearance as a witness.
Featured image via screen capture