War Of Credibility Over Rick Gates Continues In Paul Manafort Fraud Trial

Getty Images  TPM Illustration

Getty Images TPM Illustration

Moreover, 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. When the trial broke for lunch, Manafort looked back at his wife, sitting in the front row, smiled and winked at her, followed by a quick shake of his head, seeming to indicate he was unfazed by the morning's testimony. The government spent all of last week calling to the witness stand accountants who worked with Manafort, and vendors who sold him things.

But that changed Tuesday during a full day of testimony by Rick Gates, the prosecution's star witness and another former member of the campaign.

Also on Wednesday, an Federal Bureau of Investigation forensic accountant, Morgan Magionos, told jurors bank records from Cyprus, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the United Kingdom revealed the accounts were connected to Manafort and his associates.

Gates also said that he did not report 15 foreign offshore bank accounts to the government.

Defence lawyers for Paul Manafort made a last-ditch attempt on Wednesday to torpedo the key witness at his trial by asking whether he failed to disclose four extramarital affairs.

Prosecutors relied on Gates to provide first-hand support of the accusations against Manafort. He poked fun at himself Wednesday as he haggled with the attorneys for 20 minutes over the number and type of charts prosecutors could present during the testimony of the Federal Bureau of Investigation forensic accountant.

Litman said he believed the indictment was hard to put together - "but once put together, a pretty straightforward case to prove".

Michael Zeldin, a former federal prosecutor, said that in Downing's remaining hour of cross-examination on Wednesday, he needs to keep painting Gates as an unreliable person who can not be trusted.

"In Cyprus, they were documented as loans".

The prosecution produced an undated email exchange between Mr Manafort and Mr Gates which outlines the amount of tax the campaign chief might have to pay.

Judge T.S. Ellis III said it would be up to the jury to decide if the signatures were different. "In reality, it was basically money moving between accounts".

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Gates admitted during testimony on Monday to embezzling money from Manafort.

He scoffed at the idea Mr Gates had repented for his actions, noting that prosecutors have said they won't oppose his bid for probation and getting him to acknowledge he had not repaid the money he had taken from Mr Manafort. They made a mistake when they confirmed me. They expect to wrap up their case this week.

Ellis has repeatedly pushed prosecutors to whittle down their case to save time.

Under questioning by prosecutor Greg Andres, Gates walked the six-man, six-woman jury through the foreign bank accounts used by Manafort to receive payments from Ukrainian politicians - money that was not reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Mr Gates pleaded guilty months later and agreed to co-operate in Mr Mueller's investigation of Mr Manafort, the only American charged by the special counsel to opt for trial instead of a guilty plea. Then he suggested that Gates had not been honest.

Defense attorney Kevin Downing asked whether Gates' "secret life" - four affairs over the course of five years - happened during the same time he embezzled funds from Manafort.

Gates testified on Tuesday that he once had an extramarital affair that involved maintaining a London apartment. And he lied to special counsel investigators after striking a plea agreement with them.

Gates' ongoing testimony on Tuesday - the sixth day of Manafort's fraud trial - came one day after he testified that he'd committed crimes with Manafort.

The question for jurors is how much that matters.

Cindy Laporta exits the U.S. Attorneys Building in Alexandria, Virginia.

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