Manafort defence attorneys rip into star prosecution witness

Arturo Kim
August 8, 2018

In an aggressive cross-examination on Tuesday, Manafort's lead attorney Downing said to Gates: "You stole from Mr. Manafort".

Ex-Trump campaign adviser Paul Manafort's defense seeks to discredit the Mueller team's star witness during cross-examination; Peter Doocy reports on the bombshell day in court.

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

In testimony Tuesday, Gates acknowledged embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort and carrying on an extramarital affair.

Prosecutors showed contracts laying out that Manafort would be paid $4 million a year in quarterly installments of $1 million, all channeled through Cyprus.

Downing also ventured into territory both sides had agreed to avoid: discussion of Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

After saying Monday that he committed crimes with Manafort, including concealing offshore accounts to avoid reporting them to the USA government at tax time and claiming false income to get loans, Manafort defense attorney Kevin Downing asked the witness, "This jury is just supposed to believe you after all the lies that you've told and the fraud you've committed?"

Prosecutors had braced for the tough questioning by getting Gates to come clean about his own crimes.

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Judge T.S. Ellis III then asked Gates to clarify if those "loans" were actually just income-specifically payment for services-earned and not declared by Manafort.

For the first time, the jury heard about the extent that Manafort and Gates had worked for the Trump campaign. And prosecutors flashed a note from a meeting Manafort and Gates had in 2013, showing that an unnamed Trump may have received Manafort's Yankees tickets.

In one example, Manafort and Gates emailed each other copies of a doctored profit and loss statement they later sent a bank to help Manafort obtain a loan.

Gates, who is awaiting sentencing, told jurors that he siphoned off money without Manafort's knowledge by filing false expense reports.

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

The questioning of Paul Manafort's protege during the political consultant's financial fraud trial has turned confrontational and personal, focusing on Rick Gates' own crimes as well as an extramarital affair and a plea agreement. "We don't plan on doing that, but we plan on questioning him about what we call his, you know, separate secret life and how ... it relates to money he had stolen, embezzled, and things that he was doing, but specifically as to infidelity, we do not think we're going to get into that". "WTF", Manafort wrote to Gates in an email using a common shorthand to show exasperation after learning his projected tax payment for 2014. He also 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. However, Gates also said the agents did not ask about tax returns and "the majority of the Cypriot accounts were closed" at the stage.

Gates converted the 2015 DMP P&L to a Word document for Manafort, but there were spacing, font, and other discrepancies between that copy and the original. Regarding a trading company Manafort had started with a partner in 2011, he asked with deep scepticism: "You're asking the jury to believe Mr Manafort authorised another US$250,000 as a bonus?"

Manafort to Gates in 2011, telling him to "proceed" with secret foreign wire transfers. 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.

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