One day after coming face-to-face in federal court with his longtime boss, Rick Gates returns to the witness stand as the government’s star witness in the financial fraud trial of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman.
Gates, in hours of hugely anticipated testimony, calmly acknowledged having embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Paul Manafort and said the two had committed crimes together by stashing money in foreign bank accounts and falsifying bank loan documents.
Prosecutors summoned Gates, described by witnesses as Manafort’s “right-hand man,” to give jurors the direct account of a co-conspirator they say carried out an elaborate offshore tax-evasion and fraud scheme on behalf of his boss.
Manafort and Gates were the first two people indicted in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. But Gates pleaded guilty months later and agreed to cooperate in Mueller’s investigation of Manafort, the only American charged by the special counsel to opt for trial instead of a guilty plea.
White House Distances Itself on Manafort[NATL]’Nothing to Do With the Campaign’: White House Distances Itself on Manafort
The White House distanced itself from former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort just a day before his trial, with Kellyanne Conway saying, “It has nothing to do with the campaign.” Manafort stands accused of making millions doing political work in Ukraine and dodging taxes by funneling money through offshore accounts.(Published Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018)
Gates is expected to continue testifying for several hours Tuesday and is expected to face a bruising cross-examination as defense lawyers try to undercut his credibility and pin the blame on him. His testimony, given in short, clipped answers as Manafort rarely broke his gaze from the witness stand, follows 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.
Gates, who is awaiting sentencing, told jurors that he siphoned off the money without Manafort’s knowledge by filing false expense reports. He also admitted to concealing millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts on Manafort’s behalf and to falsifying loan applications and other documents to help Manafort obtain more in bank loans.
“We didn’t report the income or the foreign bank accounts,” Gates told jurors, noting that he knew he and Manafort were committing crimes each time.
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Gates, who also served in a senior role in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, read off the names of more than a dozen shell companies he and Manafort set up in Cyprus, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the United Kingdom to stash the proceeds of Manafort’s Ukrainian political consulting work.
Gates said he repeatedly lied to conceal the bank accounts and, at Manafort’s direction, would classify money that came in as either a loan or income to reduce Manafort’s tax burden.
The criminal case has nothing to do with either man’s work for the Trump campaign and there’s been no discussion during the trial about whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia — the central question Mueller’s team has tried to answer. But Trump has shown interest in the proceedings, tweeting support for Manafort and suggesting he had been treated worse than gangster Al Capone.
Paul Manafort’s Lavish Lifestyle on Display During Trial[NATL] Paul Manafort’s Lavish Lifestyle on Display During Trial
The Department of Justice has released photos and documents detailing Paul Manafort’s expensive clothing, home renovations, and spending habits.(Published Monday, Aug. 6, 2018)
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, who repeatedly interrupted prosecutors last week as they tried to present evidence about Manafort’s lavish life such as $900,000 in expensive suits and a $15,000 ostrich jacket, clashed again with prosecutor Greg Andres on Monday when Andres delved into the status and identities of the Eastern Europeans who made payments to Manafort.
Ellis said all that’s relevant is that Manafort was paid and whether he hid the income from the IRS.
“It doesn’t matter whether these are good people, bad people, oligarchs, Mafia. … You don’t need to throw mud at these people,” Ellis said.
Gates Admits Crimes With — and Embezzlement From — Manafort
Andres said he was entitled to show the jury why Manafort was getting tens of millions of dollars in payments.
“When we try to describe the work, Your Honor stops us and tell us to move on,” he said.
Prosecutors say Manafort used those companies to stash millions of dollars from his Ukrainian consulting work, proceeds he omitted year after year from his income tax returns. Later, they say, when that income dwindled, Manafort launched a different scheme, shoring up his struggling finances by using doctored documents to obtain millions more in bank loans.