Napolitano: Judge in Manafort Trial Showing an 'Extraordinary Bias' Against the Government

In testimony Tuesday Rick Gates detailed various schemes he engaged in while working for Paul Manafort

In testimony Tuesday Rick Gates detailed various schemes he engaged in while working for Paul Manafort

Rick Gates wrapped up his testimony Wednesday in the trial of his onetime friend and boss, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, reiterating that the two men conspired to lie on their taxes and defraud banks.

Prosecutors called their second government witness of the trial to the stand Wednesday to outline the investigative methods that led to the tax evasion charges against Manafort.

Gates' earlier testimony on Tuesday, meanwhile, centered on how Ukrainian businessmen paid Manafort for his consultancy work. Gates recounted how he and Manafort used more than a dozen offshore shell companies and bank accounts in Cyprus to funnel the money, all while concealing the accounts and the income from the IRS. After Yanukovych lost power in 2014, "I would say it decreased the income stream", Gates, wearing a blue suit, told the court matter-of-factly.

Rick Gates has been the government's star witness in Manafort's financial fraud trial, testifying how, at the behest of his longtime boss, he helped hide millions of dollars in foreign income and submitted fake mortgage and tax documents.

Prosecutor Greg Andres asked Gates Thursday whether Mueller's team had told him how to answer questions. Gates was asked about 11 Cypriot accounts, and he testified that they were all owned by Ukrainian businessmen.

Rick Gates is seen on the witness stand as a message between he and his former boss, Paul Manafort, appears before the court during Manafort's trial in Virginia.

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

"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".

Gates struck a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller in February, pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Federal Bureau of Investigation forensic accountant Morgan Magionos showed her work on tracking Manafort's Ukrainian money and payments out of his foreign accounts.

Downing also asked Gates if he had submitted personal expenses to President Donald Trump's inaugural committee.

"They failed to check the box that Mr. Manafort had a foreign bank account", Welch said, later adding.

Manafort's defense team did its darndest to sully Gates as a liar, a cheat, a thief and an adulterer for eight hours inside Judge T.S. Ellis' Alexandria courtroom over the past three days.

For this Manafort was paid US$4million a year, in quarterly payments of US$1million, Gates recalled, though at some point the currency switched from United States dollars to Euros.

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.

Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, is charged with 18 counts of tax and banking crimes, and has pleaded not guilty to all charges. 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.

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.

Gates testified that he engaged in an extensive criminal conspiracy with Manafort that lasted seven years and included lying to the Internal Revenue Service to avoid paying taxes and providing false documents to banks to obtains millions of dollars in loans.

When asked if he took "unauthorized expenses" from Manafort to "fund your separate secret life", Gates replied, "yes, I acknowledge I had a period of time where I had another relationship".

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