Paul Manafort’s Legal Team Starts Financial Fraud Trial By Blaming Rick Gates
The financial fraud trial for Paul Manafort started in Alexandria, Virginia, on Tuesday with the former President Donald Trump campaign chairman’s legal team blaming Manafort’s longtime political consulting associate Rick Gates.
Gates has already pleaded guilty to charges in this same case and is now cooperating in special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation. Manafort and Gates stand accused of working with pro-Russia political candidates and organizations in Ukraine.
Protesters stood outside Manafort’s trial holding signs that read “Lock him up,” among other things.
Manafort, 69, has been charged for hiding millions of dollars he was paid for his lobbying actions in Ukraine. Thomas Zehnle, one of five attorneys for Manafort, claimed in his opening statement that Gates embezzled large sums of money from the former Trump campaign manager and then ultimately chose to cooperate with investigators after being pressured to do so.
“Rick Gates is their foundation,” said Zehnle.
Manafort is not being charged for any work he did as Trump’s campaign chairman during the 2016 election. Manafort was forced to resign from Trump’s team in August 2016 following reports about his work in Ukraine. One of the people Manafort worked with was former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort is being accused of evading taxes on $15 million in income he received while working for Yanukovych.
Manafort also reportedly received money for this work in offshore bank accounts in Cyprus.
The sole witness who testified in Manafort’s trial on Tuesday was Tad Devine, a Democratic political consultant whom Manafort brought on to help with media strategy for Yanukovych’s campaign. Devine was Bernie Sanders‘s chief strategist during the 2016 election. One of the things Manafort reportedly purchased with his earnings from his Ukraine work was a $15,000 ostrich jacket.
On Monday morning, Trump tweeted that Manafort has a long history of working with Republican politicians and complained that he was never informed about his former campaign chairman being under investigation. Mueller is now investigating Trump’s tweets for possible obstruction of justice.
Paul Manafort worked for Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other highly prominent and respected political leaders. He worked for me for a very short time. Why didn’t government tell me that he was under investigation. These old charges have nothing to do with Collusion – a Hoax!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2018