Manafort defense asks Gates about additional extramarital affairs

A courtroom sketch depicts Rick Gates on the witness stand testifying at Paul Manafort’s trial Tuesday

A courtroom sketch depicts Rick Gates on the witness stand testifying at Paul Manafort’s trial Tuesday

Paul Manafort's protege on Wednesday wrapped up his testimony after implicating the former Trump campaign chairman and himself in financial crimes and also enduring stinging attacks on his character and credibility.

Television cameras are positioned outside the U.S. District Courthouse where former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is being tried on charges stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., August 7, 2018.

Manafort's "amazing full floor loft in Soho" disappeared from Airbnb during a monthlong period when he closed a $3.4 million mortgage on the NY property, after telling a bank it was a second home used by his family.

The email exchange about Calk occurred after Manafort left the Trump campaign but while Gates was active on the Trump inauguration committee.

"It actually kind of shows in real time the course of months of investigation where they painstakingly did a jigsaw puzzle of records", former USA prosecutor Harry Litman said of Magionos' testimony.

While Gates offered a firsthand account of a co-conspirator, prosecutors have largely sought to make their case through documentary evidence to demonstrate that Manafort controlled offshore bank accounts containing millions of dollars.

"It was highly inappropriate to raise the other affairs, and the judge's response was very generous", said Gene Rossi, a former prosecutor who has been attending the trial as a spectator.

"I was critical of counsel for ... allowing an expert to remain in the courtroom", Ellis told the jury prior to Thursday's testimony.

Ellis also criticized the prosecution for having one of their witnesses, IRS revenue agent Michael Welch, in the room to hear other witness testimony. Witnesses are usually excluded from watching unless allowed by the judge.

In their filing, prosecutors attached a transcript showing that in fact Ellis had approved the request a week before. That's when they reminded the judge that they had already discussed this and thought he had given Welch permission to sit in on testimony.

Gates, Manafort's longtime right-hand man, pleaded guilty in February to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of lying to an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent in exchange for testifying against his former boss.

One of Manafort's defense lawyers, Jay Nanavati, said Gates was to blamefor any errors in the loan application. He testified that he and Manafort knew they were committing crimes for years, concealing money in foreign bank accounts and falsifying bank loan documents.

Ellis has repeatedly tussled with prosecutors, interrupting them and pressuring them to hurry through their case.

"Judges should be patient".

He told jurors how he disguised millions of dollars in foreign income as loans in order to lower Manafort's tax bill. I hope Manafort said "thank you" at least. "You said you had a made mistake", the lawyer said.

Gates, under questioning by prosecutor Greg Andres, admitted that he padded his expense accounts with phony charges without Manafort's knowledge, siphoning "several hundred thousand" dollars from the secret accounts.

The testimony, stretching across three days, created an extraordinary courtroom showdown between the two former Trump campaign aides who were indicted together.

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

Laporta admitted on the witness stand last Friday that during a conference call in September 2015, she agreed, on Gates' urging, to alter a tax document for one of Manafort's businesses in order to disguise $900,000 in foreign income as a loan, according to the Associated Press, thus reducing Manafort's tax burden by almost half a million dollars.

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