Manafort’s Lawyers Get Personal As Rick Gates’s Testimony Wraps Up

Manafort’s Lawyers Get Personal As Rick Gates’s Testimony Wraps Up

Rick Gates, the ex-business partner of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, provided the most explosive testimony yet in the federal government's tax evasion, bank fraud and conspiracy case against Manafort. Prosecutors allege Manafort used various ways to hide his income, including wiring money from Ukraine to the United States via a bank in Cyprus and listing it as a loan, and laundering almost $1 million through the purchases of Oriental rugs. Manafort made millions of dollars working for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians before he took an unpaid position with the Trump campaign that lasted five months.

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".

The testimony came as prosecutors wrapped up their questioning of Gates mid-afternoon Tuesday. Manafort welcomed more than $65 million from Ukrainian political backers' foreign entities into his own secret Cypriot and other offshore accounts during Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's four years in office, according to Magionos.

"No, I did not", Gates responded. He spoke in federal court in Virginia when Manafort pleaded not guilty to bank and tax fraud charges there, and defense attorneys accused him of leaking information to the press on Manafort before joining the special counsel's office.

The exchange concluded Gates' appearance in the Manafort trial. At one point, as Gates had trouble recalling the details of his confession, Downing asked him, "Have they confronted you with so many lies that you can't even remember them?"

The case is being prosecuted by the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 USA presidential election.

He badgered Gates into admitting that he had engaged in an extramarital affair with a woman in London roughly 10 years ago and briefly questioned Gates about three other affairs before prosecutors objected. Gates had testified earlier in the trial about one extra-marital affair.

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"After all the lies you've told, and the fraud you've committed, you expect the jury will believe you?"

After Gates described his theft as "unauthorized transactions" instead of embezzlement, Downing prodded him to use the latter term - and Gates ultimately relented, saying, "It was embezzlement from Mr. Manafort". Gates was initially charged with Manafort but pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in February.

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.

Gates, meanwhile, wearing dark blue suit, white shirt and red tie, cut a lonely figure at the witness stand, blinking hard.

He told jurors how he disguised millions of dollars in foreign income as loans in order to lower Mr Manafort's tax bill. He told jurors he embezzled from Manafort by filing false expense reports. Referring to Manafort's pretrial confinement, Trump asked whether Manafort was being treated worse than Al Capone.

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. He was so desperate, prosecutors say, that he allegedly falsified loan application documents to keep himself afloat. A bookkeeper said she helped disguise foreign income as a loan to reduce Manafort's tax burden. Manafort also included Calk on a list he emailed to Gates of people he wanted to invite to Trump's inauguration.

Fox News' Judge Andrew Napolitano told Dana Perino that he found Rick Gates to be a convincing witness, while pointing out that everything that Gates did seems "an encyclopedic example of the swamp that President Trump said he would drain".

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