Rick Gates' brutal lesson for Paul Manafort

Rick Gates' testimony in the Pau...

Posted: Aug 8, 2018 12:37 PM
Updated: Aug 8, 2018 12:37 PM

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.

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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: 296154

Reported Deaths: 6764
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19700230
Hinds18851392
Harrison16736281
Rankin12757265
Jackson12623228
Lee9694161
Madison9480203
Jones7990147
Forrest7234138
Lauderdale6837226
Lowndes6032140
Lamar589680
Lafayette5740113
Washington5220130
Bolivar4616124
Oktibbeha441593
Panola431995
Pearl River4178131
Warren4134115
Pontotoc410571
Marshall403592
Monroe3990127
Union396174
Neshoba3817169
Lincoln3552104
Hancock348975
Leflore3380118
Sunflower318986
Tate303174
Pike301296
Scott294570
Alcorn292263
Yazoo290565
Itawamba290175
Coahoma281169
Tippah279265
Copiah278758
Simpson276280
Prentiss270258
Wayne254341
Leake252871
Marion252778
Covington249580
Grenada247878
Adams234678
George232145
Newton230852
Winston221877
Jasper213645
Tishomingo212665
Attala206669
Chickasaw201453
Holmes182370
Clay179251
Stone172429
Tallahatchie171239
Clarke169371
Calhoun158028
Smith153033
Yalobusha145036
Greene127833
Walthall124340
Noxubee122831
Montgomery122639
Perry122135
Lawrence120321
Carroll118625
Amite111734
Webster110832
Jefferson Davis102231
Tunica99323
Claiborne98829
Benton93824
Humphreys92927
Kemper90323
Quitman77414
Franklin76119
Choctaw69817
Jefferson62727
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey49117
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 497154

Reported Deaths: 10029
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson714001387
Mobile36252736
Madison32573462
Tuscaloosa24289414
Montgomery22708519
Shelby22112215
Baldwin19856285
Lee15021155
Calhoun13755288
Morgan13742252
Etowah13379320
Marshall11439210
Houston10110262
Elmore9451185
Limestone9413136
St. Clair9003225
Cullman8979182
Lauderdale8610212
DeKalb8486175
Talladega7582165
Walker6571259
Jackson6542103
Autauga631391
Blount6229127
Colbert5998120
Coffee5259103
Dale4657107
Russell406433
Franklin399778
Covington3989106
Chilton3891100
Escambia378772
Tallapoosa3613143
Clarke343953
Chambers3423111
Dallas3419142
Pike293372
Marion288895
Lawrence284683
Winston258668
Bibb245960
Geneva240270
Marengo238357
Pickens225055
Barbour212951
Hale211969
Fayette201357
Butler201166
Henry182941
Cherokee177739
Monroe166639
Randolph164640
Washington156635
Macon147243
Crenshaw146254
Clay145554
Cleburne139741
Lamar133733
Lowndes132551
Wilcox122525
Bullock117236
Conecuh107024
Perry105927
Sumter99432
Coosa89624
Greene88532
Choctaw55123
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