Manafort defense questions star witness Gates about 'secret life'

Paul Manafort's associate says 'hundreds' of emails prove former Trump campaign chief directed fraud

Defence attorneys for Donald Trump's former campaign chief Paul Manafort, on trial for tax and bank fraud, sought to shred the credibility of the prosecution's key witness on Tuesday, forcing him to reveal that he had an extramarital affair and stole money from his boss.

"He's confessing to stealing from the same guy that he was committing crimes with", Noah said of Gates.

Gates said prosecutors agreed not to pursue charges on those matters, and dropped a second indictment against him accusing him of bank and tax fraud.

Paul Manafort's former "right-hand man" admitted Tuesday that he embezzled from their consulting firm, engaged in fraud, lied to the special counsel, and conducted an worldwide extramarital affair.

Gates proved essential to prosecutors' attempt to tie Manafort to the dozens of foreign bank accounts in Cyprus, the United Kingdom, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines where he allegedly hid millions of dollars of taxable income from the IRS for almost a decade.

And there were Manafort's emails, which prosecutors showed to the courtroom.

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". "How could I be blindsided like this".

Gates said he helped Manafort hide secret bank accounts in the United Kingdom, Cyprus and the Grenadines.

"The circles are now squared", Gates told Manafort in 2016.

Andres also used his questioning to clean up some of the other messes made during Downing's initial round of cross-examination Tuesday afternoon.

Could his admissions alone be enough to puncture the jury's trust in what he says? The firm's director was known to Manafort and Gates as "Doctor K". The pair avoided all eye contact.

Downing accused Gates of lying on expense reports to make trips to London and around Europe.

"I admitted to a previous relationship", Gates said, adding that he maintained a flat for about two months.

"I'm here to tell the truth and take responsibility for my actions", Gates said in response to a question from Downing about his trustworthiness.

Prosecutor Greg Andres pointed out that he had created a "loan forgiveness letter between Mr. Manafort and Mr. Manafort".

Downing finished questioning Gates around 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Downing's initial round of questions Wednesday morning focused on 2014 interviews Gates and Manafort gave separately to the FBI about their Ukraine work, which Gates understood to part of an investigation into how their former client, Ukraine ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, handled the country's money. In short, they said they wanted to pin it all on the underling. He challenged the witness: "Have they [the special counsel's office] confronted you with so many lies you can't remember any of it?"

For now, the defense team has largely left in tact the possibility that Manafort engaged in the crimes alongside Gates.

Gates testified Tuesday that this was standard practice. But so far as the jury has heard, Manafort is too.

The case is being prosecuted by the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 USA presidential election. But inside the courtroom, trial proceedings had plodded along almost Trump-free.

Gates's testimony against Mr Manafort marked a shattering end to a relationship that made the two political consultants millions working for foreign politicians and led them both to prominent positions on the Trump campaign.

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". And prosecutors flashed a note from a meeting Manafort and Gates had in 2013, showing that an unnamed Trump may have received Manafort's Yankees tickets.

"They were documented as loans, but in reality they were funds moving between the accounts".



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