Prosecutors allege Manafort used various ways to hide his income, including wiring money from Ukraine to the United States via a bank in Cyprus and listing it as a loan, and laundering almost $1 million through the purchases of Oriental rugs.
The case against Manafort 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 campaign coordinated with Russian Federation - the central question Mueller's team has tried to answer. Downing asked Gates Tuesday, a rhetorical question everyone present at the trial with any courtroom experience saw coming a mile away.
Gates replied that "I made many mistakes over many years" before stepping down from the witness stand.
"If it doesn't say Men's Warehouse, then I don't know it", Ellis said after learning the pronunciation of the "House of Bijan", where Manafort bought some particularly high-end goods. He scoffed at the idea that Gates had repented for his actions, noting that prosecutors have said they won't oppose his bid for probation and getting him to acknowledge he had not repaid the money he had taken from Manafort.
After Gates testified that Manafort was "pretty good about knowing" where his money was, Ellis couldn't suppress a quip that appeared to call into question Gates' testimony. Downing had said he wanted to ask the question because it spoke to whether Gates had lied to Mueller's office, and whether Gates' plea agreement would still be valid. On Monday, he testified that he helped Manafort file false tax returns and hide his foreign bank accounts.
The exchange between Gates and Manafort's team could be a key moment in the first case that Mueller's team has taken to trial as part of its broad investigation into Russian election meddling.
"I've acknowledged there was a period where I had another relationship", said Gates, who is married. So frequent were Gates's crimes that he could not answer definitively when asked if he had stolen money from the Trump inauguration committee, for which he served as deputy chairman.
Before the final bang - or was it a whimper? - prosecutors had their own opportunity Wednesday morning to revisit with Gates exactly what he had done by way of financial crimes, and the steep, lifelong outcome of prison time he could face if he told the jury inaccuracies about Manafort. "Mr. Manafort had the same path", Gates said.
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The judge in the case, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, cut Gates off, saying, "this isn't the time for that".
Cindy Laporta testified Friday in the government's case against the former Trump campaign chairman, saying she went along with the scam because she was anxious Manafort and his right-hand-man Rick Gates would sue.
Manafort's lawyers consistently tried to paint Gates as an unreliable witness, and Gates' last day of testimony was no different. He told jurors he embezzled from Manafort by filing false expense reports.
Welch said he arrived at the $16.5 million figure based on an accounting method used by Manafort. But Trump has shown interest in the proceedings, tweeting support for Manafort and suggesting he has been treated worse than gangster Al Capone.
"In Cyprus, they were documented as loans".
Manafort was chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, and his longtime deputy was part of the campaign, too. Manafort business partner Rick Gates testified Tuesday that it was Weissmann who confronted him about a lie he had told special counsel investigators, and it was Weissmann who told him he would have to admit to that lie in an additional charge to keep his plea deal with the special counsel's office alive.
Gates testified that at Manafort's direction he went on to reclassify some of the income as a loan to lower the taxes owed.
Fox News' Judge Andrew Napolitano told Dana Perino that he found Rick Gates to be a convincing witness, while pointing out that everything that Gates did seems "an encyclopedic example of the swamp that President Trump said he would drain".