World News

Paul Manafort trial day 7: Rick Gates cross examination continues

Paul Manafort trial day 7: Rick Gates cross examination continues

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.

Paul Manafort's attorney Kevin Downing on Wednesday asked whether longtime Manafort deputy Rick Gates had four extramarital affairs - and not just one overseas 10 years ago - implying that Gates might have lied to special counsel Robert Mueller's team and could put his plea deal in jeopardy.

As well as being a senior aide on Trump's election campaign, Gates served as the deputy chairman of the USA president's inaugural committee.

"I thought it was somewhere in the range of a hundred years, your honor", Gates said.

Prosecutors summoned Gates to give jurors the first-hand account of a co-conspirator they say helped Manafort carry out an elaborate offshore tax-evasion and bank fraud scheme.

Prosecutor Greg Andres asked Gates Thursday whether Mueller's team had told him how to answer questions. He also admitted to stealing money from Manafort and having one extramarital affair. Gates was also listed as an owner of several of the accounts.

Rick Gates, Manafort's longtime deputy and the prosecution's star witness, walked out of the courtroom late Wednesday morning after more than 10 hours of testimony that spanned three days.

The lawyer, Kevin Downing, was trying to counter earlier testimony that Manafort had encouraged Gates to deceive authorities by directing him to help hide his foreign income and to submit phony mortgage and tax documents on his behalf. Although the charges largely pre-date the five months Manafort spent on Trump's campaign, he had made millions of dollars working for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians.

Manafort and Gates were the first two people indicted in Mueller's investigation into potential ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

More news: John Bolton to Mark Levin: We're cleaning up Obama's mess in Iran

Defense lawyer Kevin Downing began his cross-examination of Gates on Tuesday, accusing Gates of being immersed in "so many lies" he can't remember them all and demanded to know how a jury could possibly trust him.

"Mr Downing, I've made many mistakes over many years", said Gates, before being cut off by the judge, who snapped: "This isn't the time for that". Gates pleaded guilty to reduced charges in February and agreed to cooperate with the government.

The vendors testified about how Manafort paid for his luxury goods, including cars and custom suits, by using direct wire transfers from accounts overseas.

"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.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis has repeatedly prodded them to move swiftly while seemingly giving the defense more latitude.

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.

When asked if he took "unauthorized expenses" from Manafort to "fund your separate secret life", Gates replied, "yes, I acknowledge I had a period of time where I had another relationship".

Manafort, who helped Republicans Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan reach the White House, was Mr Trump's campaign chairman from May to August 2016. Cindy Laporta, one of the accountants, also testified that Manafort and Gates had used phony loan documents to improperly reduce Manafort's income and lower his tax bill.

Downing responded that the question goes to whether Downing told the truth to the special counsel or whether the plea agreement should be ripped up - potentially devastating to the government's case and to the public perception of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference.