Published: Thu, August 09, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Manafort Trial Defense Chips Away at Credibility of Star Witness Gates

Manafort Trial Defense Chips Away at Credibility of Star Witness Gates

IRS agent Michael Welch said in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia that Manafort received $15.5 million from Ukraine which he then used to pay for clothes, homes and landscaping between 2010 and 2014.

"I think the jury will hate (Gates), but they should still convict (Manafort) because of the testimony of other witnesses and the other documents that do put all of this on Manafort".

The email exchange about Calk occurred after Manafort left the Trump campaign but while Gates was active on the Trump inauguration committee. He testified that Mr. Manafort directed him not to report the existence of offshore bank accounts that prosecutors allege were used to hide millions of. His defence team is seeking to pin the blame on Gates, who they say was responsible for day-to-day operations of the business.

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

Gates, a former business partner of Manafort, testified that he began working with Manafort directly in October 2006, and the pair conspired between 2008 and 2015.

The case has little to do with either man's work for the Trump campaign and there's been no discussion during the trial about whether the Trump election effort coordinated with Russian Federation - the central question Mueller's team has tried to answer.

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Gates admitted to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars - $3 million, Downing claimed, but could not definitively prove - from Manafort.

But the defense team has taken on the the daunting task of convincing jurors that Gates, who was in constant communication with Manafort and carrying out his wishes, is an unreliable witness who had simply gone rogue and independently made a decision to boost his boss' personal income over a period of several years.

In testimony Tuesday, Gates laid responsibility squarely at Manafort's feet for a series of crimes, as he described to jurors how he repeatedly submitted fake financial documents at Manafort's behest as his former boss became concerned he was paying too much in taxes and, later, that his funds were drying up.

Prosecutor Greg Andres recalled how the defense team had implied Gates was getting out of a 200-year prison sentence by testifying.

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.

He is the first subject of special counsel Robert S. Mueller's investigation to stand trial.

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Gates, 46, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and is cooperating with the government as it prosecutes Manafort for allegedly evading U.S. taxes on tens of millions of dollars earned from political consulting work they did together in Ukraine from 2006 to 2014. Gates pleaded guilty to reduced charges in February and agreed to cooperate with the government.

FBI forensic accountant Morgan Magionos walked jurors through her special counsel-ordained investigation that revealed how Manafort purchased luxury goods back in the US through foreign bank accounts. Gates, a married father of four, faced tough questioning under cross-examination on Tuesday about leading a "secret life". The firm's director was known to Manafort and Gates as "Doctor K". Mr. Manafort had the same path; I'm here.

He said 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.

Manafort, who served briefly as Trump's campaign manager in 2016, has pleaded not guilty.

But Kevin Downing, an attorney representing Manafort, got in one final swipe at Gates before his testimony came to an end. 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. Did Gates, Andres asked, have any doubt that the special counsel would "rip up your plea agreement" if he lied on the stand?

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