- Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort stared down his former protegé Rick Gates as he testified against Manafort in his Virginia fraud trial on Monday.
- But Gates didn’t meet his former mentor’s gaze or look at him once while testifying to committing tax evasion and bank fraud with Manafort, as well as embezzling money from him.
- Gates is a cooperating witness in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the prosecution’s star witness in Manafort’s trial.
The Virginia trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort reached its most intense point so far on Monday.
Rick Gates, Manafort’s protégé and closest associate of many years, turned against his mentor and delivered damning testimony under his former boss’ icy gaze without looking in his direction even once.
Manafort, meanwhile, stared down Gates with a piercing, stone-cold glare while his former associate and mentee testified to committing tax evasion and bank fraud “at Mr. Manafort’s direction.”
Gates also admitted to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort by filing fake expense reports, which were then paid from foreign bank accounts illegally concealed from US authorities.
During his blockbuster testimony, Gates didn’t meet Manafort’s gaze or even look at him once, referring to him only as “Mr. Manafort,” and carefully making eye contact with everyone in the room except him.
“I have seen some cold stares in my life but watching Paul Manafort stare down his former deputy, arms crossed, as Rick Gates recounted the long list of his alleged crimes was remarkable,” wrote CNN correspondent Jim Sciutto on Twitter.
Gates first met Manafort in 1995, and was his close business partner and right-hand-man for nearly a decade while they worked as political consultants to Ukraine’s former President Victor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions before both joining the Trump campaign in 2016.
The two men apparently haven’t been in the same room together since February, when they were both charged with a combined 32 federal counts of tax evasion and bank fraud by the special counsel Robert Mueller’s office.
Manafort is pleading not guilty to all charges, while Gates took a plea deal and became a cooperating witness in Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the Trump campaign’s possible role in it.
Gates is continuing his testimony against Manafort on Tuesday.