Defense attorneys for Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDefense in Manafort trial zeroes in on Gates's "secret life" Manafort's former accountant fired from firm after testifying Giuliani: Negotiations for Trump-Mueller interview "near the end" MORE on Wednesday seized on the prosecution's star witness, accusing former Trump campaign adviser Richard Gates of violating his plea agreement by lying to federal prosecutors about how many extramarital affairs he had. They have tried several times to impugn his credibility before the jury.
Gates told the court in Alexandria, Virginia, that he had met with government lawyer Greg Andres and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents 20 times and been told only to tell the truth, without any guarantee that he will be spared prison.
Rick Gates, the former business partner of Paul Manafort, testified Tuesday that he helped Manafort hide payments from offshore accounts. The funds were logged as loans in order to meet later audits in Cyprus that required documentation of transfers between bank accounts.
Gates said that he helped fabricate documents to convert some income to a loan to lower Manafort's tax bill. He testified that he and Manafort knew they were committing crimes for years, concealing money in foreign bank accounts and falsifying bank loan documents.
He is the first subject of special counsel Robert S. Mueller's investigation to stand trial.
Gates, meanwhile, wearing dark blue suit, white shirt and red tie, cut a lonely figure at the witness stand, blinking hard.
Downing sought to portray Gates as an inveterate liar, raising questions about whether he has been truthful with Mueller's office even after cutting a plea deal in February. Manafort's trial is the first on charges brought by Mueller's office, who is also investigating whether Trump campaign members coordinated with Russian officials.
Under questioning by defense attorney Kevin Downing on Tuesday, Gates also admitted he wrote a fraudulent letter to prospective investors in a movie project and that "it's possible" he submitted to Trump's inaugural committee personal expenses, which may have been improper. The email exchange occurred after Manafort left the Trump campaign but while Gates was active on the Trump inauguration committee.
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Gates proved essential to prosecutors' attempt to tie Manafort to the dozens of foreign bank accounts in Cyprus, the United Kingdom, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines where he allegedly hid millions of dollars of taxable income from the IRS for almost a decade.
All three testified that Manafort and Gates failed to tell them about the foreign holdings in Cyprus.
Gates, who was working on Trump's transition team, testified that Manafort had suggested Stephen Calk as a candidate for Army secretary two weeks after Trump was elected.
And there were Manafort's emails, which prosecutors showed to the courtroom. The "sole goal", Gates said, was to facilitate Ukrainian payments to Manafort.
Gates also said Mr Manafort had directed him to report money wired from his foreign bank accounts as loans to reduce Mr Manafort's taxable income.
Asked why he had lied, Gates said he had done so at Mr Manafort's request.
In other testimony, Gates recounted how he converted a PDF of a profit-and-loss statement to a Microsoft Word document so he could doctor it to inflate the business' income. He told jurors he embezzled from Manafort by filing false expense reports.
After Gates described his theft as "unauthorized transactions" instead of embezzlement, Downing prodded him to use the latter term - and Gates ultimately relented, saying, "It was embezzlement from Mr. Manafort". When the trial broke for lunch, Manafort looked back at his wife, sitting in the front row, smiled and winked at her, followed by a quick shake of his head, seeming to indicate he was unfazed by the morning's testimony.