Published: Wed, August 08, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Paul Manafort trial Day 7

Paul Manafort trial Day 7

The lawyer, Kevin Downing, was trying to counter earlier testimony that Manafort had encouraged Gates to deceive authorities by directing him to help hide his foreign income and to submit phony mortgage and tax documents on his behalf.

The judge then brought the trial to a standstill late Tuesday afternoon, calling a brief recess.

Defense attorneys then used several hours of cross-examination to try to damage Gates' credibility in the eyes of jurors.

In general, references to Trump at the trial have been few and far between. Gates noted that all such payments were income earned via Manafort's political consulting work in Ukraine.

Gates also admitted, however, that the same tricks he used to help doctor and falsify records for Manafort he also deployed for his own personal gain in order to covertly wire funds out of Manafort's offshore accounts to line his own pockets.

Michael Zeldin, a former federal prosecutor, said that in Downing's remaining hour of cross-examination on Wednesday, he needs to keep painting Gates as an unreliable person who can not be trusted. 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 testified that he had an extramarital affair a decade ago, and also that he embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort.

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Ahead of that barrage, Gates has implicated himself in a vast amount of criminal conduct on the stand, an apparent strategic decision by prosecutors as they hope to take some of the steam out of the defense's questioning.

And those entities, Gates testified, never once did any sort of actual business-they were simply a vehicle for Manafort's funds to escape detection.

"In Cyprus, they were documented as loans". He said there were 15 secret accounts.

Prosecutors summoned Gates, described by witnesses as Manafort's "right-hand man, " to give jurors the first-hand account of a co-conspirator they say helped Manafort carry out an elaborate offshore tax-evasion and bank fraud scheme. "In reality, it was basically money moving between accounts", Gates said.

Gates pleaded guilty in February to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of lying to an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent in exchange for testifying against his former boss. He's expected to go for at least another hour in questioning with Manafort's attorney's. Gates testified they were not loans but compensation to Manafort. Gates also said Manafort floated banker Stephen Calk's name for consideration as Secretary of the Army, a post he ultimately did not get.

Manafort's defense team says it was actually Gates who committed the financial crimes, without Manafort knowing, and Manafort's lawyers also have sought to exploit the guilty plea that Gates has accepted after he was indicted on related charges.

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The charges largely predate the five months Manafort spent on Trump's campaign.

Day 7 of the Paul Manafort trial begins in Alexandria, Virginia on Wednesday with the continuation of a blistering cross examination of Manafort's former business associate Rick Gates. Courtroom illustration courtesy of Bill Hennessy.

From 9:30 am until just after 3 pm, Gates corroborated the testimony of Manafort's bookkeeper and two accountants from the days before, along with prosecutors' evidence.

Mr Gates told jurors that he had been "tasked" by his boss "to determine how we could lower the taxes".

However, when Andres returned to the podium for another chance to question Gates, Gates said that Manafort did reach out to a Ukrainian businessman before his Federal Bureau of Investigation interview to get more information about the entity that the businessman used to pay him and to make sure that it was "clean", meaning it was only used to pay Manafort. 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?"

During the testimony, Manafort did not stare Gates down as he did Monday.

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