Rick Gates, testifying in Manafort trial, admits to affair, London apartment

08 August, 2018, 20:29 | Author: Donnie King
  • Getty Images  TPM Illustration

Former President Donald Trump's aide Rick Gates returned to the court Wednesday to testify against his former boss, Paul Manafort, in special counsel Robert Mueller's federal tax trial against the former Trump campaign chairman.

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.

Downing asked if Gates had submitted personal expenses to the Trump inaugural committee.

Gates appeared nervous on the witness stand at the court in Alexandria, Virginia, blinking frequently, his throat apparently dry as he spoke.

Downing summed up his questioning by asking Gates: "After all these lies, and the fraud you have committed, you expect this jury to believe you?"

Gates said he did, but the defense lawyer wasn't satisfied. He scoffed at the idea that 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 Manafort. "Mr. Manafort had the same path".

That's important to prosecutors, who need to not only prove Manafort skimped on paying millions of dollars in taxes. Manafort, 69, has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank fraud, tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts containing tens of millions of dollars earned from work for Russian-backed politicians in Ukraine.




The tensions over Downing's focus on Gates' marital infidelity came after rounds of questioning where the temperature was somewhat cooler than what it had been on Tuesday afternoon, when Downing drubbed Manafort's ex-business deputy about his admission that he embezzled from his former boss, and other alleged criminal activity. At one point, as Gates had trouble recalling the details of his confession, Downing asked him, "Have they confronted you with so many lies that you can't even remember them?" Gates would fill out such templates based on information he received from Manafort and then Dr. K's law firm would move the funds. He told jurors he embezzled from Manafort by filing false expense reports. The defense asserted in its opening statement that Gates could have committed the bank fraud, tax fraud and foreign banking crimes that form Manafort's charges. He testified that he and Manafort knew they were committing crimes for years, concealing money in foreign bank accounts and falsifying bank loan documents. But prosecutors dropped charges against Gates after the former business partner took a plea deal and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. The case has little to do with either man's work for the Trump campaign, which has only tangentially figured in the trial.

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

The veteran Republican operative is not on trial for anything he did while serving for three months in 2016 as chairman of Trump's presidential campaign.

Gates said he helped Manafort hide secret bank accounts in the United Kingdom, Cyprus and the Grenadines.

Gates, who was working on Trump's transition team, testified that Manafort had suggested Stephen Calk as a candidate for Army secretary two weeks after Trump was elected. "WTF", Manafort wrote to Gates in an email using a common shorthand to show exasperation after learning his projected tax payment for 2014. "How could I be blindsided like this. This is a disaster".

"Like, Manafort must have been so mad but also at the same time so proud". When Gates had prepared the transaction, he would run the final logistics by Manafort. 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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