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Manafort trial: Star witness testifies against ex-Trump aide

07 August, 2018, 21:57 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • Kevin Downing attorney for Paul Manafort walks to the Alexandria Federal Courthouse in Alexandria Va. Monday Aug. 6 2018 for President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Manafort's tax evasion and bank fraud trial. (AP

Rick Gates, the key prosecution witness in the tax and fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, testified Monday he had committed crimes alongside and at the direction of his former partner - and had also stolen from Manafort himself.

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, 46, is already facing up to five years in prison under the terms of a plea deal he struck with prosecutors in February when he pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiracy and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They also failed to register Manafort as a foreign agent, Gates said.

"Gates is going to do and say whatever the prosecutors want him to say, which is why I wouldn't believe a word that comes out of his mouth", Kerik said in a Tuesday morning tweet.

"At Mr Manafort's request we did not disclose foreign bank accounts", Mr Gates told the jury in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.

On Monday, Gates spoke in short, clipped answers as Manafort rarely broke his gaze from the witness stand, followed that of vendors who detailed Manafort's luxurious spending and financial professionals who told jurors how the defendant hid millions of dollars in offshore accounts.

"Were you involved in criminal activity when you worked for Paul Manafort?" asked a prosecutor.

Ivanka Trump accompanies father Donald Trump to 'Make America Great Again' rally
Trump said Democrats nationwide are "lousy politicians" who embrace "horrible policies". "I want to thank our farmers". The President added the Nucore is planning to build a $240 million steel mill in the very state he was campaigning in.

President Donald Trump calls the investigation a political "witch hunt", and has argued Mr Manafort is being treated worse than Al Capone. But Gates pleaded guilty months later and agreed to co-operate in Mueller's investigation of Manafort, the only American charged by the special counsel to opt for trial instead of a guilty plea.

Both were indicted last October for hiding millions of dollars they made lobbying for Ukrainian politicians. When Robert Mueller began investigating Russian interference past year, Manafort's questionable lobbying work - the sort of activity that has historically rarely been investigated in Washington - was put under a microscope, exposing him and his associates. Gates is expected to face 6 years in jail, despite his plea deal, whilst Manafort is facing life imprisonment if found guilty.

Rick Gates will continue his testimony today. In questioning Laporta on Monday, a prosecutor asked the accountant about a $10 million loan purportedly received by Manafort from Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska in 2006.

Notably, after urging prosecutors to speed things along as jurors heard from 14 witnesses last week, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said late on August 3 that Downing could begin his questioning of Laporta on Monday and wouldn't rush him. Manafort attorney Kevin Downing will cross-examine Laporta, who is testifying under an immunity agreement because she feared prosecution for perjury or false statements.

On Friday, a tax preparer named Cindy Laporta admitted that she helped disguise $900,000 in foreign income as a loan to reduce Manafort's tax burden.

Prosecutor Greg Andres pointed out that he had created a "loan forgiveness letter between Mr. Manafort and Mr. Manafort".

On redirect, prosecutor Uzo Asonye used a spreadsheet to show that Manafort's firm had earned $31 million in gross receipts between 2010 and 2014 - half the amount prosecutors say he netted during the same time frame in Ukraine.

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