Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Six bombshells from Rick Gates' testimony in the Paul Manafort trial

Paul Manafort's associate says 'hundreds' of emails prove former Trump campaign chief directed fraud Six bombshells from Rick Gates' testimony in the Paul Manafort trial
Glenn Montgomery | 10 August, 2018, 10:45

While Trump has not played a significant role in the trial, Gates testified on Tuesday that after the election, Manafort recommended a banker who had loaned him money to be Trump's Army secretary. Both moves improved the loan terms, James said. Trump often boasts that he hires "the best people", and the sixth day of the trial showcased two people who worked for him, one who allegedly tried to use his influence in Trump's circle to boost someone he had a sketchy financial relationship with, and another who admitted under oath that he may have stolen money from Trump's inaugural committee.

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

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.

On Wednesday, defense attorneys pressed Rick Gates, Manafort's former business associate, on details of his personal life before a packed courtroom. But prosecutors dropped charges against Gates after the former business partner took a plea deal and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

Thursday's testimony was devoid of some of the drama from the last few days, when Gates was confronted about having embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort and was forced to admit on the witness stand to an extramarital affair.

Downing implied that Gates had lied on the stand, leading senior U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, the 78-year-old Ronald Reagan nominee overseeing the trial, to confer with both sides at the bench.

Manafort's defense team's primary strategy has been to pin much of the blame for financial crimes on Gates, and some observers felt Downing made some headway toward that goal on Tuesday.

Prosecutor Uzo Asonye asked if Manafort would have qualified for the loan if he had known DMP's profit for that year was in fact $400,000. Rodriguez said she discovered the mortgage by researching a New York City database of property records. Gates said it did.

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

Greg Andres, a prosecutor on special counsel Robert Mueller's team, somewhat softened the blows Manafort's attorney had inflicted during his cross examination.

The judge's comments were in response to a written filing by prosecutors arguing that Ellis should instruct the jury that he made an error in admonishing them during the Wednesday testimony of IRS agent Michael Welch.

"The jury is very sensitive to what it perceives, correctly or not, to be the judge's view of the case", Gillers said. "I am here. I have accepted responsibility and I am trying to change".

"You may put that aside", Ellis said.

Prosecutors also say the men falsified documents to lie to banks in order to qualify Manafort for loans. With the emails, prosecutors sought to show that Manafort controlled undeclared accounts that took in money from his Ukrainian clients and sent money to the USA for his personal use.

The Airbnb employee's testimony appears to confirm one of the lies prosecutors allege Manafort told a bank as he sought money from it. Banks give more money toward properties used by their owners as residences - even second homes - than they do for rentals, and Manafort appears not to have disclosed income from the rental on his tax returns.

Ellis told the jury Thursday that he was "probably wrong" in his belief Wednesday that he had told prosecutors none of their witnesses would be allowed to observe the trial.

"I was critical of counsel ... for allowing an expert to remain in the courtroom", Judge Ellis said.

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