Gates Describes Manafort Orders While Defense Hammers 'Secret Life'

Watch the clip above courtesy of MSNBC

Watch the clip above courtesy of MSNBC

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

"He always had control over the accounts", Gates said of Manafort, and the income was not reported to his bookkeepers, his accountants or the USA tax authorities.

Gates said he did, but the defense lawyer wasn't satisfied.

Possible embezzlement of millions Manafort's attorneys went on the attack against Gates on Monday, alleging that Gates told accountants to falsify Manafort's tax returns because Gates was trying to cover up the fact that he had "embezzled millions of dollars" from their firm.

"WTF", Manafort wrote to Gates in one email shown to the jury.

Gates struggled so badly to give a straight answer that eventually Judge T S Ellis III was forced to intervene.

Gates appeared nervous on the witness stand at the court in Alexandria, Virginia, blinking frequently, his throat apparently dry as he spoke. 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.

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".

Downing seized on those admissions to try and cast doubt on whether the jury can trust Gates' claims that he only carried out the fraud alleged by prosecutors at Manafort's behest. The defense moved on.

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Ahead of that barrage, Gates has implicated himself in a vast amount of criminal conduct on the stand, an apparent strategic decision by prosecutors as they hope to take some of the steam out of the defense's questioning. Looking at a ledger listing almost $3 million in transactions, he was unable to say which ones were legitimate and which ones he initiated with 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. But he was consistent in saying he was now telling the truth and that there was a "strong record" to support his key assertions: that Manafort directed him to hide money from the IRS and fake financial documents to get bank loans. His wife is "aware of" the affair and knew about the account where he sent money he embezzled from Manafort, he said.

Downing then asked about what he called "the secret life of Rick Gates", inquiring whether Gates kept an apartment in London and if he engaged in an extramarital relationship there. He agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors and has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI.

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".

"No, they're not", Gates said. Gates also said Manafort floated banker Stephen Calk's name for consideration as Secretary of the Army, a post he ultimately did not get.

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.

Mr Gates told jurors that he had been "tasked" by his boss "to determine how we could lower the taxes".

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

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

In detailed testimony this week, Gates has walked prosecutors through the step-by-step process on how he and Manafort doctored and backdated documents.

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