Monday, 24 September, 2018


Paul Manafort trial Day 8

Judge Thomas Selby Ellis III gives Paul Manafort prosecutors a rough ride Dana Milbank: Manafort is on trial. So is Trump's judgment.
Bennie Garza | 09 August, 2018, 23:18

Downing summed up his questioning by asking Gates: "After all these lies, and the fraud you have committed, you expect this jury to believe you?"

The testimony, stretching across three days, created an extraordinary courtroom showdown between the two former Trump campaign aides who were indicted together by Mueller but who have since opted for radically different strategies: Manafort is the lone American charged by Mueller to opt for trial, whereas Gates pleaded guilty and agreed to co-operate by testifying against his former boss.

Perhaps the Gates saga could boil down to one exchange about crime and consequences, and the decision he had made to turn on Manafort.

Although the allegations of collusion between Donald Trump and Russian Federation are not at issue in this trial, any significant blows to the government's case are likely be seized on by the president's defenders, including conservative media, to support his contention that Mueller's investigation is a "rigged witch-hunt".

Gates, Manafort's longtime right-hand man, pleaded guilty in February to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of lying to an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent in exchange for testifying against his former boss. Andres put it to him: "As you sit here today, do you have any doubt that if you lie, the special counsel's office will rip up your plea agreement?"

Gates, who is married and has four children, acknowledged having had a "relationship" a decade ago and admitted to stealing from his boss during a "difficult time" in his life by inflating personal expenses. He also refused to let them ask Manafort's former business associate Rick Gates about his reported extramarital affairs.

Andres quickly rose to his feet to interrupt: "Objection!"

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. A device was activated to generate white noise so their conversation could not be heard. Gates testified that he sent other falsified documents at Manafort's request, and Laporta said she made false representations to banks after conversations with Manafort and Gates.

After about five minutes, the judge and lawyers returned to their positions, and Downing appeared to have lost the battle.

The prosecutors and judge stopped Gates from answering the question, yet he still ended his testimony by saying he had "made many mistakes over many years". Gates also provided the first witness testimony that overlaps with Trump's presidential campaign.

The dispute with Ellis follows a dramatic three days in which Manafort's protégé, Rick Gates, implicated his former boss in a years-long financial scheme while also enduring stinging attacks on his character and credibility. Based on the witnesses prosecutors have said they intend to call, Thursday will focus on the bank fraud they say he turned to after his Ukraine political work dried up.

Morgan Magionos used her own charts along with financial and tax records and emails to buttress the government's detailed accounting of how the former Trump campaign chairman bankrolled an extravagant lifestyle without reporting hidden millions to the government.

The interview was part of an FBI investigation that sought to recover assets looted from the Ukrainian government under former president Viktor Yanukovych. "We need to discuss Steve Calk for Sec (retary) of the Army", Manafort wrote to Gates in an email on November 24, 2016. The meeting has previously been cited in court documents.

"When did you start providing false and misleading information to the special counsel's office?" the defence counsel asked bluntly. Andres asked on Wednesday.

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