Gates, star witness against Manafort, concludes testimony

Clay Curtis
August 10, 2018

"It was highly inappropriate to raise the other affairs, and the judge's response was very generous", said Gene Rossi, a former prosecutor who has been watching the trial.

Ellis had chastised the prosecution for allowing IRS agent Michael Welch to be present during court proceedings before taking his turn to testify.

"I'm here to tell the truth". I hope Manafort said "thank you" at least.

He barked at U.S. Attorney Greg Andres to "focus sharply" - a common refrain of his over the past week - when Andres asked permission for Magionos to testify about charts she put together detailing the flow of money from Manafort's foreign accounts to various vendors in the U.S.

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

"It appears I may well have been wrong", Ellis said as the trial went into its eighth day. Mr Gates also said he may have submitted personal expenses for reimbursement by Mr Trump's inaugural committee, which he helped operate.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to charges in both cases. Although the charges largely pre-date the five months Manafort spent on Trump's campaign, he had made millions of dollars working for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians.

Mr Downing forced Gates to admit he had stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort by filing bogus personal expenses claims and that he had engaged in an extramarital affair and kept an apartment in London for that objective.

Moreover, Manafort remains a central figure in the broader inquiry into the Trump campaign's dealings with Russia, including a 2016 Trump Tower meeting at which Russians promised "dirt" on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and his role in watering down the 2016 Republican Party platform position on Ukraine.

Trump Supporter Rand Paul Goes to Moscow, Invites Russian Officials to Washington
Trump later walked back the remark and said he trusted the US intelligence community's assessment Moscow did interfere. Paul, however, has stood by Trump, despite his remarks in Helsinki.

Mr Gates, the prosecution's star witness, recounted how he and Mr Manafort used offshore shell companies and bank accounts in Cyprus to funnel the money, all while failing to declare the income to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

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.

Mueller, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation director, has indicted more than 30 people - including 26 Russians - in connection with his probe into whether members of Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to help get the real estate tycoon elected.

Prosecutors sought to soften the blow of the cross-examination by asking Gates to acknowledge his own crimes, including a lie to Mueller's team in February. "Mr Manafort worked with the local political officials and helped implement policy initiatives based on the campaign promises".

Neither man was charged in connection with their Trump campaign work, but the trial has nonetheless been a distraction for a president who insists Manafort was treated shabbily and who continues to publicly fume about Mueller's investigation into potential ties between his associates and the Kremlin.

While some of the documents shown in court Wednesday listed Manafort's and Gates' names, others showed how a Cypriot law firm run by "Dr. K", Kypros Chrysostomides, oversaw Manafort's foreign accounts.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said that judges should be patient but "they made a mistake" when the Senate confirmed him to the bench.

In detailed testimony this week, Gates has walked prosecutors through the step-by-step process on how he and Manafort doctored and backdated documents. Downing said that the question, which came one day after Gates admitted to having a single affair ten years ago, was relevant because it could prove that Gates had lied to investigators. He also said Manafort should have reported multiple foreign bank accounts to the IRS in those years.

During Wednesday's dust-up, Assistant U.S. attorney Uzo Asonye pointed out the judge had previously told prosecutors the witness could sit in the courtroom, and the judge shot back: "I don't care what the transcript said". But she said the dressing downs are shaping how the jury views the prosecutors and, by extension, their case.

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