The Sixth Day of Paul Manafort's Trial Was Indirectly About Donald Trump
08 August, 2018, 13:54 | Author: Sheila Harris
He also said he may have submitted personal expenses for reimbursement by Trump's inaugural committee, which he helped operate.
The questioning is part of the Manafort defense strategy of presenting Gates to the jury as someone who lies and can not be trusted. But inside the courtroom, trial proceedings had plodded along almost Trump-free. Both sides agreed ahead of time to limit discussion of the campaign so as not to prejudice the jury, though they had agreed to allow testimony about the overlap of a bank loan with Manafort's role in the campaign. He also testified that he pressed the firm's accountants to reclassify loans as income so the company could qualify for more bank loans or get favorable lending rates.
Gates, who left the courtroom on Monday without so much as making eye contact with his ex-partner, looked only at the prosecutor during Tuesday's questioning.
In another heated exchange, Downing tried to press Gates into explicitly saying that he had embezzled money from Manafort.
Manafort's attorneys have signaled they will seek to blame Gates and have accused him of embezzling millions of dollars from Manafort. They have tried several times to impugn his credibility before the jury.
It's a day that featured testimony from just one witness, Rick Gates, Manafort's longtime deputy, who finished his direct questioning from prosecutors and underwent a grueling cross-examination from lead defense attorney Kevin Downing.
"In Cyprus, they were documented as loans". These accounts, Gates added, predated his tenure at Manafort's DMP International.
While Gates endured his second day on the witness stand on Tuesday, he also recounted the many legally troubling falsehoods he resorted to while working alongside Manafort. Through patient explanation, volumes of otherwise dry and somewhat confusing evidence regarding tax evasion was brought into context by special counsel Robert Mueller'sstar witness.
Manafort, former campaign chairman for then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, is on trial in Alexandria, Virginia, on tax and bank fraud charges. But Gates pleaded guilty months later and agreed to cooperate in Mueller's investigation of Manafort, the only American charged by the special counsel to opt for trial instead of a guilty plea.
Although the allegations of collusion between Donald Trump and Russian Federation are not at issue in this trial, any significant blows to the government's case are likely be seized on by the president's defenders, including conservative media, to support his contention that Mueller's investigation is a "rigged witch-hunt".
In October 2016, for instance, Gates sent Manafort DMP's profit and loss statement (P&L) from January 1 through June 30 of that year, emails introduced in court Tuesday show. Gates was Manafort's right-hand man during the pair's work as political operatives in Ukraine, and came with Manafort to the Trump campaign.
The 46-year-old former political consultant told jurors how Manafort asked for tickets to Trump's inauguration so he could give them to a banker involved in approving a loan at the center of his financial fraud trial. Gates also said Manafort floated banker Stephen Calk's name for consideration as Secretary of the Army, a post he ultimately did not get.
As for the bank fraud charges against Manafort, prosecutors presented the most compelling evidence yet that he knowingly inflated his income when applying for loans. 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. Courtroom illustration courtesy of Bill Hennessy.
Earlier on Tuesday, the prosecution had continued to question Gates, who described how millions of dollars were allegedly funnelled from entities controlled by Ukrainian businessmen into Manafort's shell companies in Cyprus.
Mr Gates told jurors that he had been "tasked" by his boss "to determine how we could lower the taxes".
In 2015 and 2016, Gates said, Manafort "requested a team of people to pull together" documents to apply for bank loans in order to keep pace with payments to maintain his luxurious lifestyle.
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They also allege that when that income began to fall away, Manafort turned to using falsified documents to get bank loans. Those admissions are likely to become a focal point for Mr Manafort's defense team when he is cross examined today.
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