Manafort defense questions star witness Gates about 'secret life'

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He is expected to face a bruising cross-examination as defense lawyers try to undercut his credibility and pin the blame on him.

Rick Gates has been the government's star witness in Manafort's financial fraud trial, testifying how, at the behest of his longtime boss, he helped hide millions of dollars in foreign income and submitted fake mortgage and tax documents.

But at another point Wednesday, Gates attempted to express remorse from the stand, saying "I've made many mistakes over many years".

Manafort, former campaign chairman for then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, is on trial in Alexandria, Virginia, on tax and bank fraud charges.

He asked a broader question about Gates spending beyond his means to fund a secret life.

Downing also asked whether he submitted personal expenses when he worked for Republican Trump's inaugural committee.

The judge in the case, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, cut Gates off, saying, "this isn't the time for that". The defense moved on.

Defense lawyers wrapped up their questioning of Gates Wednesday following a bruising cross-examination that focused on Gates's own crimes, an extramarital affair and a guilty plea with special counsel Robert Mueller's office that may spare him severe punishment.

"Did you tell the Federal Bureau of Investigation that there was hidden income in those accounts?"

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. Gates testified that he'd followed Manafort's instructions as they set up Cypriot and other foreign bank accounts, moved money from Ukrainians into the U.S., made sure Manafort's name was scrubbed from the accounts, then lied to the IRS and banks.

Gates said it was a "very common method" for Dr. K and that, once the money was moved into the accounts, Manafort decided what to do with it.

As part of his plea agreement to cooperate with prosecutors, Gates also admitted to lying to investigators from the special counsel's office - a fact Downing also seized upon.

The case has little to do with either man's work for the Trump campaign and there's been no discussion during the trial about whether the Trump election effort coordinated with Russian Federation - 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 has been treated worse than gangster Al Capone.

On Tuesday, Gates did connect one part of the bank fraud charges against Manafort to his role in the Trump campaign.

In 2015 and 2016, Gates said, Manafort "requested a team of people to pull together" documents to apply for bank loans in order to keep pace with payments to maintain his luxurious lifestyle.

Gates laying out a roadmap on how he and Manafort allegedly dodged USA taxes. after admitting Monday they committed numerous crimes as business partners.

Gates not only testified that he had committed crimes with Manafort but also admitted he stole money from his former boss.

The prosecution produced an undated email exchange between Mr Manafort and Mr Gates which outlines the amount of tax the campaign chief might have to pay.

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.

Through emails and documents submitted into evidence Tuesday, Gates explained how he and Manafort enlisted the help of a Cypriot lawyer - referred to in court as "Dr. K" because his name, Gates said, was hard to pronounce - to create "shelf" companies to receive payments from Manafort's various Ukrainian political clients for their work.

"While the firm believes that her actions were related only to work she performed for Mr. Manafort, and that no other client was affected, a detailed, independent internal review is being conducted to confirm that her activity was isolated", the firm said in the statement.

During the testimony, Manafort did not stare Gates down as he did Monday.

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