Paul Manafort trial day 7: Rick Gates cross examination continues

Geneva Stokes
August 8, 2018

Former President Donald Trump's aide Rick Gates returned to the court Wednesday to testify against his former boss, Paul Manafort, in special counsel Robert Mueller's federal tax trial against the former Trump campaign chairman.

On Tuesday, Gates did connect one part of the bank fraud charges against Manafort to his role in the Trump campaign.

The interview was part of an FBI investigation that sought to recover assets looted from the Ukrainian government under former president Viktor Yanukovych.

Prosecutors will likely draw Gates back to those facts and away from his own misbehavior on redirect examination.

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?"

She said even though she worked with Gates a lot, it was clear to her that Manafort "knew what was going on" in most instances.

The testimony came as prosecutors wrapped up their questioning of Gates mid-afternoon Tuesday.

In an aggressive cross-examination on Tuesday, Manafort's lead attorney Downing said to Gates: "You stole from Mr. Manafort".

Gates embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort by filing exaggerated - and at times, completely fabricated - expense reports, Downing forced him to admit Tuesday.

"Did you submit personal expenses to the inaugural committee for reimbursement?" The income and the accounts, however, were not reported. That, Downing said, would invalidate his plea deal.

Manafort, 69, has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank fraud, tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts containing tens of millions of dollars earned from work for Russian-backed politicians in Ukraine.

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Rick Gates takes the witness stand at Paul Manafort’s tax, fraud trial
Manafort?" Laporta thought that was odd, so she asked Gates for information about the $2.4 million Manafort was supposedly owed. The jury heard how Mr Manafort made tens of millions of dollars for political work with pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

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Prosecutors had intentionally left many of these pieces of evidence blank on an itemized list of documents they are presenting in court, signaling they could be the most sensational and attention-grabbing files in the evidence binder.

Gates acknowledged that he did for two months and that he took first-class flights and stayed in "fancy hotels" around Europe, but said the money came from bonuses rather than illicit gains.

Paul Manafort's former accountant was sacked from a Virginia firm after she told the court she was aware that Manafort's tax returns contained false information.

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 inside the courtroom, trial proceedings had plodded along almost Trump-free.

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. The loan was actually income disguised to lower Manafort's taxes, he said, and then forgiven to help Manafort get a loan.

Gates, who was working on Trump's transition team, testified that Manafort had suggested Stephen Calk as a candidate for Army secretary two weeks after Trump was elected. 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. "Brown", Gates said, but not before taking a dig by indicating he had forged similar documents for Manafort. "How could I be blindsided like this" on his high tax bill. You told me you were on top of this. "This is a disaster".

Gates converted the 2015 DMP P&L to a Word document for Manafort, but there were spacing, font, and other discrepancies between that copy and the original.

Prosecutors also say the men falsified documents to lie to banks in order to qualify Manafort for loans.

In another heated exchange, Downing tried to press Gates into explicitly saying that he had embezzled money from Manafort.

This story deletes a misquoted "not happy" from a Manafort email.

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