Federal Bureau of Investigation says ex-Trump campaign chairman hid over 30 offshore accounts

Frederick Owens
August 9, 2018

"Yes, I made a decision", Gates said.

When it was his turn to question Gates, defense attorney Kevin Downing went on the offensive, pressing him on what amount of time he would have expected to face in prison had he not agreed to cooperate with the government.

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

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.

But when Downing tried to question Gates on Tuesday about what the special counsel team had asked him about the Trump campaign, Andres objected.

Gates has told jurors he and Manafort spent years carrying out a vast tax-evasion and bank fraud conspiracy involving millions of dollars.

Gates, who pleaded guilty to charges in February and is co-operating for the possibility of a reduced sentence, testified that he helped Manafort falsify his tax returns, lie to banks to get loans and hide foreign bank accounts.

Downing then noted how on Tuesday he had referred to the witness's "secret life", in particular an extra-marital affair he conducted in London, that involved lavish spending on flights and hotels. Gates also said he may have submitted personal expenses for reimbursement by Trump's inaugural committee, which he helped operate.

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?"

After Downing asked Gates Wednesday whether he had multiple affairs, Judge T.S. Ellis had a private conversation, out of earshot of the jury. 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.

And after Rick Gates finished giving his close-up angle on Manafort's financial doings, the prosecution zoomed out to put the financial charges all into context. He initially tried to avoid admitting he purposefully lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about a 2013 meeting Manafort attended with a USA congressman and tried to avoid using the term "embezzled" in relation to the inflated expense reports he submitted for reimbursement during his employment with Manafort. He also said he 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.

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Gates' testified that he and Manafort knew they were committing crimes for years.

"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 reality, it was basically money moving between accounts".

Paul Manafort's attorney Kevin Downing on Wednesday asked whether longtime Manafort deputy Rick Gates had four extramarital affairs - and not just one overseas 10 years ago - implying that Gates might have lied to special counsel Robert Mueller's team and could put his plea deal in jeopardy.

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

Neither man was charged in connection with their Trump campaign work, but the trial has nonetheless been a distraction for a president who insists Manafort was treated shabbily and who continues to publicly fume about Mueller's investigation into potential ties between his associates and the Kremlin. But Trump has shown interest in the proceedings, tweeting support for Manafort.

While businesses can deduct losses from theft, Welch said on redirect by one of the prosecutors: "If money is stolen from money that is untaxed, there is no deduction".

All three testified that Manafort and Gates failed to tell them about the foreign holdings in Cyprus.

He also said Manafort had asked him to disguise income as loans.

In December 2016, Manafort sent an "urgent" email to Gates including Calk and Calk's son on a list of people Manafort wanted to receive invitations to Trump's inauguration.

That's important to prosecutors, who need to not only prove Manafort skimped on paying millions of dollars in taxes.

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