Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Manafort defense questions star witness Gates about 'secret life'

Paul Manafort's associate says 'hundreds' of emails prove former Trump campaign chief directed fraud Rick Gates admits extramarital affair in London, as defense tears into 'secret life'
Faye Gross | 08 August, 2018, 18:04

But he was consistent in saying he was now telling the truth and that there was a "strong record" to support his key assertions: that Manafort directed him to hide money from the IRS and fake financial documents to get bank loans. "In reality, it was basically money moving between accounts", Gates said.

He told jurors how he disguised millions of dollars in foreign income as loans in order to lower Manafort's tax bill. Trump was indirectly referenced in multiple ways throughout the testimony, highlighting the risks to the president of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

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Gates elicited laughs from the crowd when he said he liked Downing's first answer. They have tried several times to impugn his credibility before the jury.

Rick Gates, Manafort's long-time deputy, came in for a withering cross-examination as he took the stand in a packed federal courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia.

Manafort was on Trump's campaign team from March to August 2016, starting as a delegate-wrangler and serving as campaign chairman in the last three months.

Gates pleaded guilty in February to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of lying to an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent in exchange for testifying against his former boss.

Paul Manafort's former "right-hand man" admitted Tuesday that he embezzled from their consulting firm, engaged in fraud, lied to the special counsel, and conducted an global extramarital affair. Gates testified that Manafort asked him to float Calk, who was on Trump's economic advisory council, for Secretary of the Army. "Mr Manafort worked with the local political officials and helped implement policy initiatives based on the campaign promises". Prosecutors had previously said that Manafort's interactions with Calk were the only part of the trial expected to overlap with his Trump campaign role. Gates pleaded guilty to reduced charges in February and agreed to cooperate with the government.

The face-off between longtime business associates and former senior members of the Trump campaign drew scores of people who waited in line for hours outside the courthouse and then jammed into both the courtroom and an overflow room that contained a video feed of the proceedings.

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Earlier Tuesday, Gates told the court that Manafort would frequently pay for clothing, landscaping and other personal expenses using wire transfers directly from his bank accounts in Cyprus and others in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

In one email, Manafort wrote "WTF" and "not happy" about tax payments he was going to have to make, Gates said.

Manafort's defense attorneys have sought to paint Gates as an embezzler, a liar and the instigator of any criminal conduct.

Downing also asked Gates if he talked to the special counsel's office about his time at the Trump campaign.

Prosecutor Greg Andres pointed out that he had created a "loan forgiveness letter between Mr. Manafort and Mr. Manafort".

Gates explained that Manafort's financial difficulties worsened in 2014, when Viktor Yanukovych was no longer in power and the Party of Regions disintegrated. Manafort broke his stare only to review government exhibits on a small monitor in front of him.

Still, that testimony has provided jurors with a damning account as Gates testified that he and Manafort knew they were committing crimes for years. But he said most of the money he spent on the affair came from his legitimate bonuses or from his family, and that most of the money he embezzled he shared with his wife.

After Gates struggled to recall precisely what he had told Mueller's team, Downing asked if he had been confronted with "so many lies" that he can't keep his story straight.

He had also lied in a deposition in a civil case against Mr Manafort involving a private equity fund.

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