Manafort defence attorneys rip into star prosecution witness

Paul Manafort's associate says 'hundreds' of emails prove former Trump campaign chief directed fraud

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".

Mr. Gates admitted over three days to various crimes, including some he said he committed with Mr. Manafort and others he carried out on his own. He also is accused of fraudulently obtaining millions more in bank loans, including while he was working on the Trump campaign.

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

Manafort, a longtime Republican political consultant, is the first person to be tried on charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

On Tuesday, Downing asked how the jury could believe Gates "after all the lies you told and fraud you committed". In reality, it was basically money moving between accounts, " Gates said during his second day of testimony in the financial fraud trial of his former boss. He spoke in federal court in Virginia when Manafort pleaded not guilty to bank and tax fraud charges there, and defense attorneys accused him of leaking information to the press on Manafort before joining the special counsel's office.

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.

The star witness in Paul Manafort's financial fraud trial says the former Trump campaign chairman told him to be truthful about offshore shell companies and bank accounts during a 2014 interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The judge then brought the trial to a standstill late Tuesday afternoon, calling a brief recess.

Prosecutor Greg Andres objected to the question before Gates could answer.

Manafort had $16.4 million in unreported income between 2010 and 2014, according to an IRS agent who said tax returns filed by Manafort were also false because he did not indicate he had foreign accounts.

Defense lawyer Kevin Downing guided Gates on a tour through the wide array of lies he's told, and sought to paint him as a man not to be trusted.

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The judge in the case, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, cut Gates off, saying, "this isn't the time for that". Both sides have agreed to limit discussion of the campaign to avoid prejudicing the jury, though they did permit testimony about the overlap of a bank loan with Manafort's role in the Trump election effort.

Gates came on board the Trump campaign with Manafort and stayed for the duration of the campaign, later serving as deputy chairman for Trump's inaugural committee and then starting a pro-Trump PAC. He told jurors he embezzled from Manafort by filing false expense reports.

Rick Gates has been the government's star witness in Manafort's financial fraud trial, testifying how, at the behest of his longtime boss, he helped hide millions of dollars in foreign income and submitted fake mortgage and tax documents. He was so desperate, prosecutors say, that he allegedly falsified loan application documents to keep himself afloat.

Gates said he and Manafort created an elaborate operation in Cyprus to use shell companies to secretly accept the money.

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

Gates explained that Manafort's financial difficulties worsened in 2014, when Viktor Yanukovych was no longer in power and the Party of Regions disintegrated.

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. Referring to Manafort's pretrial confinement, Trump asked whether Manafort was being treated worse than Al Capone.

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.

"They failed to check the box that Mr. Manafort had a foreign bank account", Welch said, later adding.

Manafort was chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, and his longtime deputy was part of the campaign, too. Gates said the man schooled them on how to shield their operations from scrutiny by tax collectors.

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