Gates returns for high-drama testimony against Manafort

Gates returns for high-drama testimony against Manafort

The trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is entering Day Six today in Alexandria, Virginia, with federal prosecutors planning to obtain additional testimony from their star witness: Manafort's former business partner, Rick Gates.

Manafort and Gates were the first two people indicted in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign. They also failed to register Manafort as a foreign agent, Gates said.

When asked why had lied, he told prosecutors he had done so at Mr Manafort's request.

Gates testified that Manafort "requested I make wire transfers from the foreign accounts" and that "at Mr. Manafort's request", the two of them "did not disclose the foreign bank accounts" to the US government.

Paul Manafort's defense hinges on pinning the blame on Mr Gates, who they accuse of embezzling millions of dollars from Mr Manafort.

Prosecutors on Monday went through a list of overseas corporations and Gates testified that all of them were controlled by Manafort and contained income earned by his political consulting work.

The jury had heard testimony on Friday and Monday from accountant Cynthia Laporta, who described how Manafort and Gates doctored financial statements and backdated loans.

Those admissions are likely to become a focal point for Manafort's defence team when he is cross examined on Tuesday.

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Gates says he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort by submitting false expense reports.

While Mueller's charge is investigating the nature and extent of the Russian government's alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election, he was presented a broad mandate by then-Acting, now-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to investigate "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation".

He also said Manafort helped four Ukrainian businessman elect a pro-Russia president in Ukraine in 2010 in exchange for millions that were paid to Manafort through shell companies. Manafort listed the income as a loan in 2012 in order to reduce his taxable income, according to Gates.

Prosecutors have sought to undercut this argument by repeatedly asking witnesses who dealt with Manafort and Gates about the dynamics of their relationship, trying to underscore that Manafort was the supervisor.

Accountant Cindy LaPorta - who was granted immunity from prosecution - was asked by prosecutors if she had been aware of a $10m (£7.7m) loan in 2006 from Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Kerik, on the other hand, isn't putting any weight on Gates' words because of his motivation for testifying.

During Manafort's trial, Greg D. Andres and other prosecutors have tried to illustrate the corrupt nature of the Ukrainian politicians and oligarchs Manafort worked with-and Judge T.S. Ellis has discouraged such testimony. But while Laporta acknowledged that she regularly communicated with Gates, she said she believed Manafort was in the know.

Manafort, 69, meanwhile, is facing 18 felony charges that could carry a maximum of 30 years in prison.

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