ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Paul Manafortâ€™s protĂ©gĂ© on Wednesday wrapped up his testimony after implicating the former Trump campaign chairman and himself in financial crimes and also enduring stinging attacks on his character and credibility.
Rick Gates has been the governmentâ€™s star witness in Manafortâ€™s financial fraud trial, testifying how, at the behest of his longtime boss, he helped conceal millions of dollars in foreign income and submitted fake mortgage and tax documents.
Defense lawyers saw an opening to undermine his testimony by painting him as liar and a philanderer, getting him to admit to an extramarital affair and reminding jurors how he had lied to special counsel Robert Muellerâ€™s team while working out a plea deal for himself.
The testimony, stretching across three days, created an extraordinary courtroom showdown between the two former Trump campaign aides who were indicted together by Mueller but who have since opted for radically different strategies: Manafort is the lone American charged by Mueller to opt for trial, whereas Gates pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate by testifying against his former boss.
Neither man was charged in connection with their Trump campaign work, but the trial has nonetheless been a distraction for a president who insists Manafort was treated shabbily and who continues to publicly fume about Muellerâ€™s investigation into potential ties between his associates and the Kremlin.
Prosecutors sandwiched the testimony of Gates around other witnesses who, in sometimes dry and detailed testimony, described Manafortâ€™s lavish spending and use of offshore accounts to stash Ukrainian political consulting fees.
A clothier said he sold Manafort more than $900,000 in suits, a bookkeeper says she helped disguise foreign income as a loan to reduce Manafortâ€™s tax burden and, on Wednesday, an FBI forensic account said Manafort hid more than 30 offshore accounts in three types of currencies from the IRS.
But it was Gatesâ€™ testimony that has generated the most drama, as the witness admitted embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from his boss, confessed to an extramarital affair and turned in spectacular fashion against a longtime mentor.