Monday, 10 December, 2018

Takeaways from Day 7 of the Manafort Trial

Getty Images  TPM Illustration Getty Images TPM Illustration
Kenny Thornton | 09 August, 2018, 12:47

He has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank fraud, tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.

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.

Gates also said that when their political work in Ukraine dried up in 2015, Manafort had difficulty paying his bills and had no other clients at that time.

The exchange between Gates and Manafort's team could be a key moment in the first case that Mueller's team has taken to trial as part of its broad investigation into Russian election meddling.

Before the final bang - or was it a whimper? - prosecutors had their own opportunity Wednesday morning to revisit with Gates exactly what he had done by way of financial crimes, and the steep, lifelong effect of prison time he could face if he told the jury inaccuracies about Manafort.

"No doubt at all", Gates said. The special counsel's office has pushed back against the leak allegation, and while an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent testified he was present at a meeting with AP reporters about Manafort, the agent said the AP was offered little more than a "no comment" and an acknowledgement that their reporters were generally on track.

Throughout three days of questioning in a packed federal courtroom a half-hour south of the White House, Gates admitted to a staggering amount of criminal activity he committed both with Manafort and for his own benefit.

Manafort also falsely classified another $1.5 million in income as a loan, Welch testified - while adding that Manafort never indicated he had foreign bank accounts on his tax returns.

But the grilling got more intense, and personal, Tuesday afternoon when Downing pressed Gates about a "secret life" he said was funded by embezzlement, including an extramarital affair that Gates himself acknowledged.

Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois joining Real Madrid from Chelsea
Chelsea tonight confirmed the club record £71 million signing of goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao . Chelsea have rushed through a deal for Kepa in the last 48 hours after finally confirming Courtois is leaving.

"Did you submit personal expenses to the inaugural committee for reimbursement?" 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?"

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 Manafort by filing false expense reports. He also committed credit card and mortgage fraud, falsified a letter for a colleague involved in an investment deal and made false statements in a deposition at Manafort's direction.

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 US government's efforts to recover assets stolen under former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Gates said he was responsible for collecting all relevant documents for the loan applications.

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

As part of his plea agreement to cooperate with prosecutors, Gates also admitted to lying to investigators from the special counsel's office - a fact Downing also seized upon.

Greg Andres, a prosecutor on special counsel Robert Mueller's team, somewhat softened the blows Manafort's attorney had inflicted during his cross examination. But Trump has shown interest in the proceedings, tweeting support for Manafort and suggesting he has been treated worse than gangster Al Capone.

Paul Manafort (L), former campaign chairman for U.S. President Donald Trump, in Washington, DC, U.S., December 11, 2017, and Rick Gates, former campaign aide to Trump, in Washington, U.S., December 11, 2017 are pictured in this combination photograph.

As well as being a senior aide on Trump's election campaign, Gates served as the deputy chairman of the USA president's inaugural committee.

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