By Steve Birr
Attorneys for former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort tore into the reputation of his former business partner, Rick Gates, during court proceedings Tuesday, suggesting his testimony cannot be trusted.
Leading the defense, lawyer Kevin Downing questioned Gates over previous testimony given to Special Counsel Robert Mueller in February that he admitted he knew was false. Gates’s false testimony occurred before he agreed in February to cooperate with Mueller in the tax and bank fraud trial of Manafort, reports Reuters.
Downing also highlighted an admission Gates made during testimony Monday that he submitted false expense reports paid to accounts in Cyprus in order to embezzle hundreds of thousands from Manafort. The defense even pressed Gates on his alleged, “separate, secret life,” which included an affair from more than a decade ago with a woman in London, which he allegedly used “business expenses to pay for.”
The defense’s strategy is to undermine Gates’ credibility — the prosecution’s star witness who also served as a Trump campaign aid — and show that any financial fraud was the doing of Gates, not Manafort, who has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank and tax fraud.
“Have they confronted you with so many lies that you can’t remember them?” Downing asked Gates with regards to the special counsel’s team, according to The Associated Press.
Throughout testimony Monday and Tuesday, Gates admitted to a litany of financial crimes, including failing to disclose 15 foreign accounts to the federal government “at Mr. Manafort’s direction,” he said. Gates previously interned for Manafort at the lobbying firm Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly and continued to work for Manafort when he left the firm in 2006.
Gates and Manafort operated a lucrative lobbying firm working for pro-Russian factions in Ukraine prior to campaigning on behalf of President Donald Trump.
Gates maintains Manafort was intimately involved in their various schemes. In testimony Tuesday, Gates noted how angry Manafort was when he saw his tax bill for 2014, emailing Gates, “Not happy. I just saw this. WTF.” Gates said he falsified documents, converting income into loans, in order to dodge the fees on Manafort’s behalf.
Manafort’s defense counters that Gates embezzled millions from Manafort over the course of their partnership.
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