Burnett: Gates admits he conned alleged conman

CNN's Erin Burnett examines the testimony of Rick Gates, President Donald Trump's former deputy chairman, in the government's case against Paul Manafort.

Posted: Aug 8, 2018 10:20 AM
Updated: Aug 8, 2018 10:20 AM

Rick Gates' testimony in the Paul Manafort trial should teach the rest of the Trump campaign universe an important lesson: Criminals can't trust each other. And there are a number of people in this orbit who are undoubtedly and anxiously newly alive to this.

Gates -- who has agreed to a plea deal in the hope of a reduced sentence on a host of crimes in which he's admitted his guilt (including tax fraud, bank fraud, money laundering and lying to federal authorities) -- has turned on his former boss, spilling the beans about the duo's alleged financial misbehavior and international law breaking.

Gates also admitted to fleecing Manafort. Meanwhile, Manafort's attorneys are attempting to paint a picture of the protégé as the real perpetrator and Manafort, his boss, as the innocent dupe.

Gates told the court this week that Manafort had neglected to report 15 different foreign accounts to US officials, and conducted illicit dealings for a series of unsavory characters, including pro-Russia operatives in Ukraine.

These tidbits were especially tantalizing given the role of both men in Donald Trump's election campaign: Manafort, who is on trial on tax and bank fraud charges, was Trump's campaign chairman, and Gates his deputy.

That same campaign has been dogged by accusations of collusion with the Russian government -- a hostile foreign power looking to interfere with an American election -- which the President has long denied. But this weekend he tweeted that his son Donald Trump Jr. did in fact meet with Russians in 2016 at Trump Tower "to get information on an opponent."

He characterized this, inaccurately, as "done all the time in politics" and "totally legal." The younger Trump did not report the meeting with Russians to the FBI -- as he should have -- and when it was exposed in a New York Times report a year later issued a statement (dictated by his father, the President) claiming that it was mainly adoption laws he discussed with a Kremlin-tied lawyer (and self-described "informant"), leaving out that he'd taken the meeting in hopes of getting dirt on his father's opponent, Hillary Clinton.

This is why, with the dominoes falling in the Manafort case, it may well be not just Manafort feeling the heat. Manafort and Gates were, after all, alleged partners in crime and business, close friends whose alleged illicit and possibly illegal activities bonded them. Faced with the prospect of prison time, though, Gates gave up his friend and mentor; the threat of years behind bars is, for most people, stronger than the ties of friendship, and Gates proved no exception.

If any among the clawing, craven members of the Trump campaign (only a few of whom have survived into the administration) face the same such scrutiny by investigators, they are unlikely to be much different. Criminals, politicians and other narcissists tend to be self-interested individuals. Put enough pressure on them, and they'll happily shift the blame (hopefully to where it really belongs).

Manafort is living that reality. He's not just standing trial over his alleged crimes; he's seeing his relationships crumble as association with him has becomes toxic. There was a time when it was just the opposite: Association with Manafort meant power, money and access.

Now it might be the inside of a prison cell. You have to imagine Manafort's former friends and associates, other than Gates, are watching and taking note -- including the man sitting in the Oval Office, and all the people who put him there.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 537813

Reported Deaths: 11024
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson791691529
Mobile41177808
Madison35002507
Tuscaloosa25871454
Shelby25076249
Montgomery24549591
Baldwin21290309
Lee15946171
Calhoun14556319
Morgan14364280
Etowah13890353
Marshall12262223
Houston10602282
Elmore10115206
Limestone10031151
St. Clair9890245
Cullman9730194
Lauderdale9449243
DeKalb8853188
Talladega8325176
Walker7259277
Autauga6971108
Jackson6830112
Blount6750139
Colbert6317134
Coffee5546119
Dale4869113
Russell444338
Chilton4343113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4040152
Escambia394577
Chambers3581123
Dallas3564153
Clarke351361
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302298
Winston275673
Bibb263064
Geneva252577
Marengo249664
Pickens234862
Barbour231956
Hale223677
Butler217869
Fayette212462
Henry189644
Cherokee184345
Randolph182042
Monroe178140
Washington167639
Macon160750
Clay156957
Crenshaw153357
Cleburne149241
Lamar143035
Lowndes139653
Wilcox127430
Bullock123041
Conecuh110629
Coosa108928
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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