Published: Thu, August 09, 2018

Drama grips court as Manafort lawyers accuse Rick Gates of multiple affairs

Drama grips court as Manafort lawyers accuse Rick Gates of multiple affairs

The testimony, stretching across three days, created an extraordinary courtroom showdown between the two former Trump campaign aides who were indicted together by Mueller but who have since opted for radically different strategies: Manafort is the lone American charged by Mueller to opt for trial, whereas Gates pleaded guilty and agreed to co-operate by testifying against his former boss.

Gates faces more cross-examination Wednesday in federal court in Alexandria, Va. Manafort is accused of overseeing an elaborate offshore tax-evasion and bank fraud scheme, and Gates has offered a first-hand account of its workings. So frequent were Gates's crimes that he could not answer definitively when asked if he had stolen money from the Trump inauguration committee, for which he served as deputy chairman.

"I'm not happy with this judge", Napolitano said on "The Daily Briefing" on Wednesday.

But prosecutor Greg Andres followed up by suggesting that Gates and Manafort were not fully truthful.

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?"

Downing then asked about what he called "the secret life of Rick Gates", inquiring whether Gates kept an apartment in London and if he engaged in an extramarital relationship there.

The testimony came as prosecutors wrapped up their questioning of Gates mid-afternoon Tuesday.

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.

Gates said under questioning Wednesday that he told Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and Justice Department lawyers about some of the offshore companies that contained millions of dollars in proceeds from their Ukrainian political work.


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.

The topic came up as Kevin Downing, Manafort's defense attorney, hammered away at Gates' admitted habit of filing doctored expense reports in an attempt to paint Gates as self-motivated and untrustworthy.

"Mr Downing, I've made many mistakes over many years", said Gates, before being cut off by the judge, who snapped: "This isn't the time for that". But prosecutors dropped charges against Gates after the former business partner took a plea deal and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. In one case, she alleged that foreign accounts were used by Manafort to pay for more than $3.5 million in home improvements. And the fact that after loaning Manafort millions of dollars Calk became an economic adviser to Trump casts doubt on Trump's famous pledge to "drain the swamp" and puncture the rampant influence peddling in Washington.

After Downing asked Gates Wednesday whether he had multiple affairs, Judge T.S. Ellis had a private conversation, out of earshot of the jury.

Her testimony "clearly represents that she failed to meet the firm's high standards for professional and ethical conduct in her work for Mr. Manafort", Laporta's firm Kositzka, Wicks & Co., said. The charges are not related to Manafort's work with the Trump campaign. Manafort welcomed more than $65 million from Ukrainian political backers' foreign entities into his own secret Cypriot and other offshore accounts during Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's four years in office, according to Magionos.

Downing responded that the question goes to whether Downing told the truth to the special counsel or whether the plea agreement should be ripped up - potentially devastating to the government's case and to the public perception of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference.

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.

"WTF", Mr Manafort wrote in response, "How could I be blindsided like this".

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