Published: Wed, August 08, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Mueller's 'star witness' returns for testimony in Manafort trial

Mueller's 'star witness' returns for testimony in Manafort trial

Paul Manafort's former deputy-turned-prosecutor's witness Rick Gates returns to the courtroom Tuesday for a second day of testimony against the former Trump campaign chairman. Manafort stared at Gates as he began his evidence by detailing the plea deal, in which he admitted to two charges, one of conspiracy against the United States, and the other of making a false statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is alleged that Manafort earned millions of dollars, which he neglected to declare to the authorities.

On Monday, Gates described his history of working with Manafort, his plea deal and how Manafort's consulting business operated in Ukraine.

On Monday Gates testified that he has met with prosecutors about 20 times.

Asked whether the money in the accounts was Manafort's income, Gates said, "it was".

Gates testified that Manafort directed him to report overseas income as loans in order to lower taxable income and that at Manafort's request, did not disclose foreign bank accounts, which is required by law.

Manafort's defense team wants to pin any potential crimes on Gates, who admitted in court he embezzled "several hundred thousand" dollars from Manafort in that period.

On Tuesday, Gates did connect one part of the bank fraud charges against Manafort to his role in the Trump campaign. The trial is moving quickly and it would be no surprise if the prosecution rests before the end of Week 2 and the defense takes over. That recommendation is nonbinding as a federal judge will ultimately decide his sentence. When Robert Mueller began investigating Russian interference a year ago, Manafort's questionable lobbying work - the sort of activity that has historically rarely been investigated in Washington - was put under a microscope, exposing him and his associates. But Trump has shown interest in the proceedings, tweeting support for Manafort and suggesting that he had been treated worse than gangster Al Capone.

Ellis said all that's relevant is that Manafort was paid and whether he hid the income from the IRS.

The jury heard how Mr Manafort made tens of millions of dollars for political work with pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

"That's absolutely true, your honor", Andres said.

Four Ukrainian oligarchs funneled money to Manafort's accounts from their own shell companies in Cyprus, Gates testified.

Gates also said he lied in a lawsuit deposition years ago, after Manafort "asked me not to include" certain things in the deposition.

Testimony from Mr Manafort's tax preparer continued on Monday.

In a reflection of Gates' importance to the prosecution's case, a cart of about a half dozen green-and-white document boxes bearing his name was rolled into the courtroom ahead of his testimony.

Laporta said she had grown to distrust the information Gates was providing her, though she didn't know about the embezzlement.

But Mr Manafort is not charged with helping the Kremlin.

Manafort has a second trial scheduled for September involving allegations that he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests and made false statements to the U.S. government.

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