Rick Gates, the feds’ star witness in the trial of Paul Manafort, took the stand on Monday and made jaws drop with his admission to a wide range of crimes, both with and against his old boss. His inside knowledge could convince the jury to send Manafort to the slammer for years. But Gates’ admissions of his own serial lying, forgery, and crimes against Manafort could also play right into the hands of the defense.
Welcome to Rabbit Hole.
Why Gates matters: The prosecution’s case so far has followed a narrative path that moves both chronologically forward in time and from the outside of Manafort’s circle inward. Until this point, the jury has heard lots of very complicated accounting evidence from mostly third parties who, with the exception of accountant Cindy Laporta, weren’t implicated in the alleged bank fraud and tax crimes. Gates is the first person who’s been able to translate the binders full of numbers and alien accounting terms into the things that matters most: Manafort’s alleged criminal knowledge and intent.