Star witness Rick Gates to testify for third day in Manafort trial

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The prosecution flashed a December 2011 email on the TV screens in the Alexandria, Virginia, courtroom Tuesday between Gates and Manafort about a wire transfer.

Gates testified they were not loans but compensation to Manafort.

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. He's expected to go for at least another hour in questioning with Manafort's attorney's.

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. Trump often boasts that he hires "the best people", and the sixth day of the trial showcased two people who worked for him, one who allegedly tried to use his influence in Trump's circle to boost someone he had a sketchy financial relationship with, and another who admitted under oath that he may have stolen money from Trump's inaugural committee. Gates also provided the first witness testimony that overlaps with Trump's presidential campaign.

When Downing questioned why Gates had embezzled money from his boss, he used it as an opportunity to issue a public apology. He also admitted to embezzling money from other employers in the past.


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

Manafort and Gates were the first two people indicted in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

When asked if he took "unauthorized expenses" from Manafort to "fund your separate secret life", Gates replied, "yes, I acknowledge I had a period of time where I had another relationship". "I'm not very patient, so don't try my patience", Ellis said.

In a final back and forth between lawyers over Gates's credibility, the focus turned to his decision to plead guilty and cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, which Manafort's defence have portrayed as an attempt to save his own skin. On Monday, he testified that he helped Manafort file false tax returns and hide his foreign bank accounts.

Manafort's defense team says it was actually Gates who committed the financial crimes, without Manafort knowing, and Manafort's lawyers also have sought to exploit the guilty plea that Gates has accepted after he was indicted on related charges. "Mr. Manafort had the same path", Gates said.


On Wednesday, Downing sought to counter earlier testimony that Manafort had encouraged Gates to deceive authorities by getting Gates to acknowledge that Manafort told him to be truthful about offshore shell companies and bank accounts during a 2014 interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 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.

Downing outlined how Gates gave false and misleading information to the special counsel after he had entered his plea agreement.

Although the allegations of collusion between Donald Trump and Russian Federation are not at issue in this trial, any significant blows to the government's case are likely be seized on by the president's defenders, including conservative media, to support his contention that Mueller's investigation is a "rigged witch-hunt".

And Gates faced fraud charges from the special counsel after it discovered he had written a letter to a Swiss movie production company falsely claiming that his own production company was investing in a film project by his friend, Steve Brown.

And later that year, while trying to get another loan, Manafort himself asked Gates for a version of the firm's 2016 Profit & Loss Statement that could be edited, Gates testified.


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