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Manafort defence attorneys rip into star prosecution witness

09 August 2018

The drama came at the end of Gates's testimony in the trial of his former boss and mentor Manafort, an ex-Donald Trump campaign chairman accused of bank fraud and tax evasion.

Gates' testimony concluded Wednesday following three days worth of questioning, during which he detailed how he and Manafort had 15 undisclosed foreign bank accounts and falsifying bank accounts.

Mr Gates, the prosecution's star witness, recounted how he and Mr Manafort used offshore shell companies and bank accounts in Cyprus to funnel the money, all while failing to declare the income to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Although the charges largely pre-date the five months Manafort spent on Trump's campaign, he had made millions of dollars working for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians. The firm's director was known to Manafort and Gates as "Doctor K". But Gates nonetheless faced aggressive questioning by Manafort's lawyer, Kevin Downing, who at one point asked him, "After all the lies you've told and the fraud you've committed, you expect this jury to believe you?" Instead, he asked Gates more broadly: "Does your secret life span over many years?"

"I'm not happy with this judge", Napolitano said on "The Daily Briefing" on Wednesday.

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. Manafort's defence team's has tried to pin much of the blame for financial crimes on Gates and raise doubts about his ethics and morals.

The lawyer, Kevin Downing, was trying to counter earlier testimony that Manafort had encouraged Gates to deceive authorities by directing him to help hide his foreign income and to submit phony mortgage and tax documents on his behalf.

Manafort's lawyers are determined to impugn the credibility of Gates, who pleaded guilty in Mueller's investigation and agreed to cooperate with investigators by testifying in the financial fraud trial.

Gates admitted to cheating on his wife about 10 years ago, but denied using company money to fund his affair, even as Downing sarcastically noted the apartment Gates kept in the United Kingdom: "A flat?" Gates also said Manafort floated banker Stephen Calk's name for consideration as Secretary of the Army, a post he ultimately did not get.

On Tuesday, Gates was forced to answer questions about past infidelity, his embezzlement and what Manafort had directed him to do while in his employment. Prosecutors agreed to drop a wide variety of additional charges against Gates in exchange for his guilty pleas and cooperation against Manafort.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III has been pushing prosecutors to hurry through their case.

See more from the judge in the clip above, including his thoughts on the testimony of Rick Gates, a former business partner of Manafort.

Manafort's lawyers consistently tried to paint Gates as an unreliable witness, and Gates' last day of testimony was no different.

He told jurors he embezzled from Mr Manafort by filing false expense reports. But Trump has shown interest in the proceedings, tweeting support for Manafort.

"Those appear to be substantially different, don't they?" defense attorney Richard Westling asked Magionos, showing her Manafort's signatures on a loan application to the Bank of California and one of the foreign banking documents. In one case, she alleged that foreign accounts were used by Manafort to pay for more than $3.5 million in home improvements.

Gates laying out a roadmap on how he and Manafort allegedly dodged USA taxes. after admitting Monday they committed numerous crimes as business partners.

Although questions tied to the Trump campaign have been severely limited at trial, Manafort remains a central figure in the broader inquiry into the Trump campaign's dealings with Russia, including a 2016 Trump Tower meeting at which Russians promised "dirt" on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and his role in watering down the 2016 Republican Party platform position on Ukraine.

Manafort defence attorneys rip into star prosecution witness