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Rick Gates, testifying in Manafort trial, admits to affair, London apartment

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Rick Gates, testifying in Manafort trial, admits to affair, London apartment

Rick Gates departs after a bond hearing at U.S. District Court in Washingto
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Joshua Roberts
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Rick Gates, the prosecution's star witness testifying in the federal fraud trial against Paul Manafort, revealed Tuesday that he once had an extramarital affair that involved maintaining a London apartment — but said he couldn't recall if he used money he embezzled from Manafort to pay for it.

The topic came up as Kevin Downing, Manafort's defense attorney, hammered away at Gates' admitted habit of filing doctored expense reports in an attempt to paint Gates as self-motivated and untrustworthy.

Downing then asked about what he called "the secret life of Rick Gates," inquiring whether Gates kept an apartment in London and if he engaged in an extramarital relationship there.

"I admitted to a previous relationship," Gates said, adding that he maintained a flat for about two months. According to The Washington Post, the affair occurred about 10 year ago.

During his testimony Monday, Gates admitted he had embezzled money from Manafort by creating false expense reports on his own behalf. He didn't state an exact dollar amount, but estimated it to be "in the hundreds of thousands."

Downing also asked Gates if he had submitted personal expenses to President Donald Trump's inaugural committee.

"It's possible," Gates, who was a Trump campaign aide, replied.

Gates' earlier testimony on Tuesday, meanwhile, centered on how Ukrainian businessmen paid Manafort for his consultancy work. Gates was asked about 11 Cypriot accounts, and he testified that they were all owned by Ukrainian businessmen.

He told the jury that Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, loaned himself money between two Cypriot accounts because "he was trying to decrease his taxable income." Gates said that these loans were actually income.

Gates explained that Manafort's financial difficulties worsened in 2014, when Viktor Yanukovych was no longer in power and the Party of Regions disintegrated.

When Yanukovych lost power, Gates testified that "decreased the income stream" significantly for Manafort, and his financial situation "substantially decreased" from prior years.

"Was he having difficulty paying his bills?" Andres asked.

"He was," Gates answered.

Gates' ongoing testimony on Tuesday — the sixth day of Manafort's fraud trial — came one day after he testified that he'd committed crimes with Manafort.

Gates, a former business partner of Manafort, testified that he began working with Manafort directly in October 2006, and the pair conspired between 2008 and 2015.

Gates said Monday that over the years, Manafort directed him to make payments through wire transfers. The income and the accounts, however, were not reported.

Gates also said that he did not report 15 foreign offshore bank accounts to the government. In addition, he testified, he did not submit the required forms at Manafort's direction. Gates said the money in these accounts was earned from Manafort's political campaign work.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's team, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, says Gates was heavily involved in helping hide millions overseas. Gates pleaded guilty to reduced charges in February and agreed to cooperate with the government.

The tax and bank fraud charges in the current trial — the first of two Manafort is scheduled to face — however, have nothing to do with Manafort's work on the Trump campaign. Instead, prosecutors for Mueller have accuse Manafort of hiding at least $30 million that he earned while representing Russia's neighboring country of Ukraine and its president, Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Both Gates and Manafort were indicted last October by a federal grand jury on 12 charges, including conspiracy against the U.S. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.