So yesterday was day two of testimony from Rick Gates, Paul Manafort’s former business partner.

And this time he was questioned by Manafort’s defense team.

And damn did things get interesting. 

Courtesy of the AP:

Gates implicated himself in broad criminal conduct on the stand, an apparent strategic decision by prosecutors to take some of the steam out of defense questioning. He told jurors he embezzled from Manafort by filing false expense reports. He also said he committed credit card and mortgage fraud, falsified a letter for a colleague involved in an investment deal and made false statements in a deposition at Manafort’s direction.

Prosecutors summoned Gates to give jurors the first-hand account of a co-conspirator they say helped Manafort carry out an elaborate offshore tax-evasion and bank fraud scheme. Gates testified that he and Manafort knew they were committing crimes for years, saying they had stashed money in foreign bank accounts and falsified bank loan documents.

“In Cyprus, they were documented as loans. In reality, it was basically money moving between accounts,” Gates said.

Gates also copped to having an extramarital affair and embezzling from his boss, Paul Manafort. 

Manafort’s attorney tried to paint Gates as noncredible based on his criminal past, to which Gates gave this response courtesy of WaPo:

Many of Downing’s questions sought to buttress Manafort’s central defense strategy: that Gates, not Manafort, is the real villain, a man who told so many lies and stole so much money he could not remember all of his illegal activity.

In one of the most heated exchanges, Gates compared himself favorably to Manafort, suggesting he had chosen a better path by cooperating with the FBI.

“After all the lies you’ve told and fraud you’ve committed, you expect this jury to believe you?” Downing asked.

“Yes,” Gates responded flatly.

“I’m here, to tell the truth,” Gates said. “Mr. Manafort had the same path,” he said, adding later: “I’m trying to change.”

(Downing, is Kevin Downing, Manafort’s lawyer.)

There were a number of reports that Manafort was giving Gates the evil eye all during his testimony and cross-examination, but Gates did not falter. After all his freedom depends on him telling the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  

There was this other nugget that Rachel Maddon picked up on.

Here is more courtesy of CNN:

Paul Manafort recommended a banker who allegedly loaned him money under false pretenses be nominated as President Donald Trump’s Army secretary, Rick Gates testified Tuesday.

Gates, who was working on Trump’s transition team, testified that Manafort had suggested Stephen Calk as a candidate for Army secretary two weeks after Trump was elected.

Manafort was Trump’s campaign chairman in summer 2016 but resigned before the election. Gates, Manafort’s longtime business partner and Trump’s deputy campaign chairman, was working on the transition team and the inauguration.

“We need to discuss Steve Calk for Sec of Army,” Manafort wrote to Gates on Nov. 24, 2016, in an email prosecutors showed the jury. He signed the email as “P.”

Manafort emailed Gates again two days before Christmas in 2016. He told Gates he had attached contact information for various people he wanted to go to Trump’s inauguration. That list included Calk and his son.

Ultimately Calk did not get that Secretary of Army gig, but he was named to Trump’s Economic Advisory Council in August 2016.

So are we really to believe that Donald Trump knew none of this was going on, or about Manafort’s criminal tendencies, or was that the actual reason that he felt so comfortable having him head up the campaign? 

Well, I know what I think.