Published: Wed, August 08, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Manafort defense questions star witness Gates about 'secret life'

Manafort defense questions star witness Gates about 'secret life'

Rick Gates, the prosecution's star witness testifying in the federal fraud trial against Paul Manafort, revealed Tuesday that he once had an extramarital affair that involved maintaining a London apartment - but said he couldn't recall if he used money he embezzled from Manafort to pay for it.

"There is a period of time over 10 years ago when I had a relationship, yes", Gates said.

Manafort's lawyer suggested that the affair - which included a London pad, first-class plane trips and luxury hotels - cost up to $3 million.

Paul Manafort (L), former campaign chairman for U.S. President Donald Trump, in Washington, DC, U.S., December 11, 2017, and Rick Gates, former campaign aide to Trump, in Washington, U.S., December 11, 2017 are pictured in this combination photograph. Gates noted that all such payments were income earned via Manafort's political consulting work in Ukraine.

Gates said he falsely labeled hundreds of thousands of dollars in income as loans to reduce Manafort's tax liability.

"WTF", Manafort wrote to Gates in one email shown to the jury.

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

Manafort and Gates were the first two people indicted in Mueller's investigation into potential ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

Prosecutors had intentionally left many of these pieces of evidence blank on an itemized list of documents they are presenting in court, signaling they could be the most sensational and attention-grabbing files in the evidence binder. Gates said he was guilty, having wired money from Cyprus through the United Kingdom to the USA without paying taxes on it for himself.

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Mr Manafort's trial in Alexandria is the first to arise out the Mueller probe and marks a major public test of that investigation's credibility. But Trump has shown interest in the proceedings, tweeting support for Manafort.

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.

Gates said he and Manafort turned to a Cypriot lawyer, whom he referred to in court as "Dr K", who set up bank accounts and shell companies on Manafort's behalf and "handled everything".

In testimony Tuesday, Gates laid responsibility squarely at Manafort's feet for a series of crimes, saying the two had committed crimes together by stashing money in foreign bank accounts and falsifying bank loan documents.

During a series of redirect questions on Wednesday, Manafort's attorney Kevin Downing asked Gates if he remembers telling special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russian Federation probe MORE's office that he had four extramarital affairs.

The tax and bank fraud charges in the current trial - the first of two Manafort is scheduled to face - however, have nothing to do with Manafort's work on the Trump campaign. "In reality, it was basically money moving between accounts", Gates said.

Asked if he got any personal benefit from Mr Manafort's falsified loan applications, Gates responded: "No, I did not".

Gates said Monday that over the years, Manafort directed him to make payments through wire transfers.

After saying Monday that he committed crimes with Manafort, including concealing offshore accounts to avoid reporting them to the US 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?" 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. Manafort broke his stare only to review government exhibits on a small monitor in front of him.

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