Manafort's lawyers press witness about his own lies, affair, embezzlement

  • Manafort's lawyers press witness about his own lies, affair, embezzlement

Manafort's lawyers press witness about his own lies, affair, embezzlement

Gates walked into a packed courtroom a day after he calmly acknowledged having embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort and said the two had committed crimes together by stashing money in foreign bank accounts and falsifying bank loan documents.

Manafort, a former Trump campaign chairman, has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank and tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.

Ahead of that barrage, Gates implicated himself in a vast amount of criminal conduct on the stand, an apparent strategic decision by prosecutors as they hoped to take some of the steam out of the defense's questioning.

HuffPost Illustration/Getty Images Rick Gates. And on Wednesday, an Federal Bureau of Investigation forensic accountant said Manafort hid more than 30 offshore accounts in three types of currencies from the IRS. "I had a period of time when I had another relationship", he added.

Gates was hired by Manafort to serve as deputy campaign chairman and later had a role on Mr Trump's inaugural committee.

Gates did stumble a few times on the stand. He frequently used the phrases "It's possible" and "I don't recall" as Downing challenged him about inconsistencies in testimony he gave to the special counsel's office.

"When did you start providing false and misleading information to the special counsel's office?" the defence counsel asked bluntly.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III has been pushing prosecutors to hurry through their case.

"You knowingly made a false statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation?" "I'm not very patient, so don't try my patience", Ellis said.

For most of his testimony, Gates did not look at Mr Manafort, while the defendant stared intently at his former partner. Downing pressed him on the specifics of their business relationship: which payments to Gates were authorised and which were not.

The questioning is part of the Manafort defense strategy of presenting Gates to the jury as someone who lies and can not be trusted. "He's making too much of the case about him and he's showing an extraordinary bias against the government". He challenged the witness: "Have they [the special counsel's office] confronted you with so many lies you can't remember any of it?"

Rick Gates, the government's star witness, recounted how he and Manafort used more than a dozen offshore shell companies and bank accounts in Cyprus to funnel the money, all while concealing the accounts and the income from the IRS. But Trump has shown interest in the proceedings, tweeting support for Manafort. Prosecutors agreed to drop a wide variety of additional charges against Gates in exchange for his guilty pleas and cooperation against Manafort.

Morgan Magionos told jurors Wednesday that bank records from Cyprus, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the United Kingdom revealed the accounts were connected to Manafort and his associates. The loan was actually income disguised to lower Manafort's taxes, he said, and then forgiven to help Manafort get a loan. But then prosecutor Greg Andres invoked Trump's name, and Gates' and Manafort's work on the campaign became more explicitly tied to the alleged crimes at the heart of the trial.

And later that year, while trying to get another loan, Manafort himself asked Gates for a version of the firm's 2016 Profit & Loss Statement that could be edited, Gates testified. Gates said the money in these accounts was earned from Manafort's political campaign work.

More recently, after the launch of the Mueller investigation but before his plea bargain, Gates lied to the FBI about a meeting between Manafort and an unnamed US Congressman regarding a "specific issue".

"I am here to tell the truth and to take responsibility for my actions".

Gates said he and Manafort turned to a Cypriot lawyer, whom he referred to in court as "Dr K", who set up bank accounts and shell companies on Manafort's behalf and "handled everything".

FBI forensic accountant Morgan Magionos walked jurors through her special counsel-ordained investigation that revealed how Manafort purchased luxury goods back in the USA through foreign bank accounts.