Gates Says He Stole From Firm to Pay for Affair

Paul Manafort

Rick Gates has finished three days' worth of dramatic testimony in federal court against his former business partner, ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort - but not before defense lawyers caused a stir by pressing him for details on his past infidelity.

Under questioning by defense attorney Kevin Downing on Tuesday, Gates also admitted he wrote a fraudulent letter to prospective investors in a movie project and that "it's possible" he submitted to Trump's inaugural committee personal expenses, which may have been improper. "Mr Manafort had the same path".

"He requested certain things be changed in some of those documents", Gates said, including claiming certain properties as primary residences instead of rentals and inflating his income for collateral.

Gates was indicted alongside Manafort in October, but he later pleaded guilty to lesser charges of conspiracy against the USA and lying to the FBI as part of a deal with federal prosecutors.

In blistering questioning, a defense lawyer accused the protege of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of being immersed in "so many lies" he can't remember them all, as he tried to undermine the credibility of the government's star witness in Manafort's fraud trial.

Manafort's former bookkeeper Heather Washkuhn testified last week that Manafort falsely reported to Federal Savings Bank that his company DMP International pulled in $3 million the first nine months of 2016 when it actually lost more than $1 million from January through November.

Gates explained that Manafort's financial difficulties worsened in 2014, when Viktor Yanukovych was no longer in power and the Party of Regions disintegrated.

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.

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In prosecutors' questioning, then in a combative cross-examination from the defense team, Gates revealed the extent to which he had siphoned money from his boss and committed a host of other misdeeds. Gates testified that Manafort asked him to float Calk, who was on Trump's economic advisory council, for Secretary of the Army.

Manafort to Gates in 2011, telling him to "proceed" with secret foreign wire transfers. And Manafort made millions of dollars working as a political consultant for a pro-Russia party in Ukraine before he worked for the Trump campaign, which could raise questions about Trump's friendly rhetoric towards the country.

Gates appeared shaky at times in answering questions, contrasting sharply with his firm and clear answers to questions by prosecutors.

Earlier on Tuesday, the prosecution had continued to question Gates, who described how millions of dollars were allegedly funnelled from entities controlled by Ukrainian businessmen into Manafort's shell companies in Cyprus. Gates testified that he and Manafort knew they were committing crimes for years, saying they had stashed money in foreign bank accounts and falsified bank loan documents. Manafort's defence team's has tried to pin much of the blame for financial crimes on Gates and raise doubts about his ethics and morals.

At first, Gates merely noted that in March 2016 Manafort hired him to work for "one of the presidential candidates".

Those who dealt with Manafort's taxes also testified that even though they asked Manafort whether he maintained any bank accounts overseas, he told them no. "In reality, it was basically money moving between accounts", Gates said.

Although we've seen a lot of the numbers throughout the trial, Tuesday offered the best glimpse into just how anxious Manafort was about paying bills, specifically his tax bill.

"I think he has to keep hammering at the point that Gates is not a credible witness and he can't be believed", he said. He also admitted to embezzling money from other employers in the past.

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