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

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

That is expected to continue on Wednesday - and then prosecutors are expected to have an opportunity to question Gates again and try to rehabilitate him.

After Andres objected to Downing's question, Judge T.S. Ellis called the attorneys to the front of the courtroom for a conference.

In general, references to Trump at the trial have been few and far between. Both sides have agreed to limit discussion of the campaign to avoid prejudicing the jury, though they did permit testimony about the overlap of a bank loan with Manafort's role in the Trump election effort.

Possible embezzlement of millions Manafort's attorneys went on the attack against Gates on Monday, alleging that Gates told accountants to falsify Manafort's tax returns because Gates was trying to cover up the fact that he had "embezzled millions of dollars" from their firm. Downing pressed him on the specifics of their business relationship: which payments to Gates were authorised and which were not.

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.

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Gates testified that Manafort had instructed him to be "open" with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in that interview about how they were paid. They have tried several times to impugn his credibility before the jury.

The questioning of Paul Manafort's protege during the political consultant's financial fraud trial has turned confrontational and personal, focusing on Rick Gates' own crimes as well as an extramarital affair and a plea agreement. Gates testified that he and Manafort knew they were committing crimes for years, saying they had stashed money in foreign bank accounts and falsified bank loan documents. 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.

Gates acknowledged that he did for two months and that he took first-class flights and stayed in "fancy hotels" around Europe, but said the money came from bonuses rather than illicit gains. The defense asserted in its opening statement that Gates could have committed the bank fraud, tax fraud and foreign banking crimes that form Manafort's charges. Manafort's trial is the first on charges brought by Mueller's office, who is also investigating whether Trump campaign members coordinated with Russian officials.

Gates testified that he'd followed Manafort's instructions as they set up Cypriot and other foreign bank accounts, moved money from Ukrainians into the U.S., made sure Manafort's name was scrubbed from the accounts, then lied to the IRS and banks.

The transfers would usually occur when Manafort made requests for Gates to initiate them-often through a list of to-be-sent wire transfers provided by Manafort to Gates via email.

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Manafort, who helped Republicans Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan reach the White House, was Mr Trump's campaign chairman from May to August 2016. Courtroom illustration courtesy of Bill Hennessy.

According to Gates, Manafort, who had by then left the campaign, asked Gates in various ways to use his position on Trump's team to do favors for Stephen Calk, a banker who had loaned Manafort millions of dollars - loans that Mueller's team alleges were consummated under false pretenses.

Mr Gates told jurors that he had been "tasked" by his boss "to determine how we could lower the taxes". "Mr. Manafort had the same path", Gates said.

In other testimony, Gates recounted how he converted a PDF of a profit-and-loss statement to a Microsoft Word document so he could doctor it to inflate the business' income.

Gates, who also worked on Trump's campaign, is the star witness against Manafort.

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That testimony probably explains one of the minor mysteries of the first week of the Manafort trial.

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