Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Paul Manafort trial Day 7

Getty Images  TPM Illustration Getty Images TPM Illustration
Ellis Copeland | 09 August, 2018, 12:44

He banned the word "oligarch" from the courtroom for being "pejorative" and complained last week about prosecutors' attempts to put Manafort on trial "for having a lavish lifestyle".

The crimes Manafort allegedly committed do not have bearing on that central question, but they were uncovered in the course of the special counsel investigation; this is the first trial resulting from Mueller's probe.

"I'm not happy with this judge", Napolitano said on "The Daily Briefing" on Wednesday. Lawyers for Manafort are looking to undermine Gates' credibility and blame him for any crimes in the case, suggesting that he's told "so many lies" that he can't possibly remember them all.

Defence attorneys for Donald Trump's former campaign chief Paul Manafort, on trial for tax and bank fraud, attacked the credibility of the key prosecution witness as he wrapped up three days of gruelling testimony on Wednesday (Aug 8).

Gates told the court in Alexandria, Virginia, that he had met with government lawyer Greg Andres and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents 20 times and been told only to tell the truth, without any guarantee that he will be spared prison.

Those who dealt with Manafort's taxes also testified that even though they asked Manafort whether he maintained any bank accounts overseas, he told them no.

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.

Downing then noted how on Tuesday he had referred to the witness's "secret life", in particular an extra-marital affair he conducted in London, that involved lavish spending on flights and hotels.

Downing summed up his questioning by asking Gates: "After all these lies, and the fraud you have committed, you expect this jury to believe you?"

Manafort's defense team did its darndest to sully Gates as a liar, a cheat, a thief and an adulterer for eight hours inside Judge T.S. Ellis' Alexandria courtroom over the past three days. 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.

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Prosecutors called their second government witness of the trial to the stand Wednesday to outline the investigative methods that led to the tax evasion charges against Manafort.

He told jurors he embezzled from Mr Manafort by filing false expense reports.

Rick Gates has been the government's star witness in Manafort's financial fraud trial, testifying how, at the behest of his longtime boss, he helped hide millions of dollars in foreign income and submitted fake mortgage and tax documents.

Gates added that Manafort also wanted to give the businessman a heads-up about the FBI's interest in the offshore accounts as part of the USA government's efforts to recover assets stolen under former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

"In Cyprus, they were documented as loans". Gates said the money in these accounts was earned from Manafort's political campaign work.

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

Gates struck a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller in February, pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The case has little to do with either man's work for the Trump campaign and there's been no discussion during the trial about whether the Trump election effort coordinated with Russian Federation - the central question Mueller's team has tried to answer. But Trump has shown interest in the proceedings, tweeting support for Manafort. So frequent were Gates's crimes that he could not answer definitively when asked if he had stolen money from the Trump inauguration committee, for which he served as deputy chairman.

She said she had identified 31 accounts located in Cyprus, the Grenadines and the United Kingdom belonging to Manafort.

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

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