Friday, 16 November, 2018

Manafort defence attorneys rip into star prosecution witness

Manafort defence attorneys rip into star prosecution witness Manafort defence attorneys rip into star prosecution witness
Melinda Barton | 09 August, 2018, 23:18

Gates, who pleaded guilty in February to charges of conspiracy and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, admitted to committing crimes with former business associate Manafort earlier this week.

The prosecution has put forward almost 20 witnesses - including Manafort's longtime deputy Rick Gates - and a trove of documentary evidence as they've sought to prove Manafort defrauded banks and concealed millions of dollars in offshore bank accounts from the IRS. The government spent all of last week calling to the witness stand accountants who worked with Manafort, and vendors who sold him things.

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

Gates admitted to cheating on his wife about 10 years ago, but denied using company money to fund his affair, even as Downing sarcastically noted the apartment Gates kept in the United Kingdom: "A flat?"

"Were these payments for your secret life?" They also need to prove he did so with intent and not by mistake. Gates testified that Manafort asked him to float Calk, who was on Trump's economic advisory council, for Secretary of the Army. Regarding a trading company Manafort had started with a partner in 2011, he asked with deep scepticism: "You're asking the jury to believe Mr Manafort authorised another US$250,000 as a bonus?"

"Do you remember telling the office of the special counsel you actually engaged in four extramarital affairs?"

Asked if he had been coached, Gates replied, "The only answer I was told was to tell the truth".

"The Ukrainians", Gates said, adding a layer to his statement Tuesday that he had stolen "Mr. Manafort's money".

Ellis encouraged both the prosecution and the defense to not try his patience with unnecessary objections or other delays. Gates has already pled guilty to two counts in Mueller's probe and testified against Manafort as part of a plea deal with the special counsel's office.

The trial in federal court, which finished its seventh day on Wednesday, is the first stemming from Mueller's probe into Russian involvement in the 2016 USA presidential election.

Manafort's political work included advising Viktor Yanukovich on policy after he won the Ukrainian presidency, Gates said.

In detailed testimony, Gates has walked prosecutors through the step-by-step process on how he and Manafort doctored and backdated documents.

The 46-year-old former political consultant told jurors how 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.

Earlier Tuesday, Gates told the court that Manafort would frequently pay for clothing, landscaping and other personal expenses using wire transfers directly from his bank accounts in Cyprus and others in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Gates' testimony is among the most important of the trial - pitting the longtime right-hand man against his boss face-to-face for the first time publicly since Gates flipped in February and pleaded guilty to conspiracy and lying to investigators. The $3.4 million loan, using Manafort's Howard Street property in NY as collateral, was ultimately approved on March 4, 2016, James testified on Thursday morning.

"The idea of exchanging income for loans reduced his overall tax liability", Gates said. 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.

Mr Mueller, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation director, has indicted more than 30 people - including 26 Russians - in connection with his probe into whether members of Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to help get the real estate tycoon elected.