Six bombshells from Rick Gates' testimony in the Paul Manafort trial

Blanche Robertson
August 9, 2018

Instead, Manafort is charged with evading taxes and bank fraud related to the money he made providing political consulting services in Ukraine.

Downing implied that Gates had lied on the stand, leading senior U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, the 78-year-old Ronald Reagan nominee overseeing the trial, to confer with both sides at the bench.

Gates did stumble a few times on the stand.

Prosecutor Greg Andres addressed the defence lawyer's questions about whether the special counsel's office had tried to coach Gates on how to testify.

Downing's smear of Gates may not matter if jurors think the documentary and email evidence prosecutors presented lines up with Gates' testimony.

"After all the lies you've told, and the fraud you've committed, you expect the jury will believe you?"

In one exchange published in court Wednesday, Manafort instructs his Cypriot lawyer, Kypros Chrysostomides - referred to in court as "Dr. K" because, according to Gates, his name is hard to spell and pronounce - to transfer money from the Manafort-controlled Leviathan Ltd.

In a tense day in court, the campaign strategist's longtime deputy, Rick Gates, told jurors how the pair were paid by Ukrainian oligarchs for their work as political consultants in the country.

"No doubt at all", Gates said.

The judge asked for clarification.

But the defense team has taken on the the daunting task of convincing jurors that Gates, who was in constant communication with Manafort and carrying out his wishes, is an unreliable witness who had simply gone rogue and independently made a decision to boost his boss' personal income over a period of several years. Ellis smiled and several people laughed.

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Downing's questions to Gates about affairs and embezzlement cut to the heart of the defense's case trying to undermine Gates' credibility with jury and pin the blame on Gates for Manafort's alleged crimes.

The two witnesses who followed Gates gave the government a greater voice in the proceedings than it's had so far.

Morgan Magionos told jurors Wednesday that bank records from Cyprus, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the United Kingdom revealed the accounts were connected to Manafort and his associates. Welch said the monetary figure was based on an accounting method used by Manafort.

And how large it was.

Downing accused Gates of using the funds he admitted to stealing from Manafort to pay for a lavish lifestyle that included a London apartment and travel funds to finance one of his extramarital affairs. Many of those could have been business expenses, the agent said, but the other millions of dollars certainly should have been disclosed to the IRS as income.

On Wednesday, Gates initially testified Manafort told him to be truthful during a 2014 interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation about offshore shell companies and bank accounts that contained millions of dollars in proceeds from their Ukrainian political work.

Now the trial will likely move into gritty tales of bank fraud.

Mueller, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation director, has indicted more than 30 people - including 26 Russians - in connection with his probe into whether members of Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to help get the real estate tycoon elected.

It's not yet clear who will be called to testify as the trial kicks back into gear Thursday morning.

In addition to the unreported income, Welch said that Manafort listed dubious business expenses such as 132,000 euros to a yacht company, $49,000 for an Italian villa rental, $45,000 for cosmetic dentistry and $19,800 for a riding academy, according to The Washington Post. Then the defense takes the stage.

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