The bank fraud trial for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort enters its second week on Monday, and the most critical testimony yet is unfolding. Rick Gates, Manafort's former business partner who has cut a plea deal, was called to the stand at 4:15 p.m. Monday.
Gates, who also served a senior role in Mr. Trump's campaign, has been a key cooperator for special counsel Robert Mueller's team after he cut a plea deal earlier this year. During that plea process, Gates admitted to two felony charges, but when he testifies it will be the first time he'll detail those crimes face-to-face with his former boss and mentor. Gates is one of 35 potential witnesses prosecutors hope to call to the stand.
The trial, taking place in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, is the first of Mueller's prosecutions to reach a jury. But lawyers have made no mention of Trump or possible campaign coordination with the Kremlin, the central question behind the special counsel's investigation. The judge in the case, T.S. Ellis, has said that he doesn't think it will need to go longer than three weeks and would like it to wrap up in two.
Last week, Manafort was accused of amassing "secret income" and falsifying tax returns and using fake loans to pay less in taxes, among other things.
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Gates, after he was initially not called up to testify, was called to the stand by the prosecution. He is testifying now.
Former Manafort associate Rick Gates was expected to take the stand, the defense said Monday afternoon, but he was not the next person called, confusing even the judge.
The prosecution called a different witness, Paula Liss, a FINCEN senior special agent and anti-money laundering specialist.
It's unclear whether Gates will testify Monday, or later in the week.
The government has filed a brief on its intent to have at least one FBI forensic accountant read emails from Manafort in court, "because they represent Manafort's statements" and "are not hearsay." Two FBI forensic accountants are on the government's witness list: Morgan Magionos and Renee Michael.
Both have experience with the Manafort investigation, and have reviewed and analyzed thousands of documents, financial records and emails, according to the government.