Judge in Manafort trial concedes mistake after berating Mueller’s prosecutors

Aug 10, 2018, 02:59
Judge in Manafort trial concedes mistake after berating Mueller’s prosecutors

"I was probably wrong in that", said Ellis.

And IRS agent Michael Welch said Manafort used his foreign income for purchases that included a yacht, horseback riding, Italian villa rental and cosmetic dentistry.

"Don't do that again", he bellowed at Mr. Asoyne.

But Gates nonetheless faced aggressive questioning by Manafort's lawyer, Kevin Downing, who at one point asked him, "After all the lies you've told and the fraud you've committed, you expect this jury to believe you?"

After saying Monday that he committed crimes with Manafort, including concealing offshore accounts to avoid reporting them to the USA government at tax time and claiming false income to get loans, Manafort defense attorney Kevin Downing asked the witness, "This jury is just supposed to believe you after all the lies that you've told and the fraud you've committed?"

The testimony bolsters the prosecution's tax-evasion case against Manafort. While many of them have been out of earshot of the jury, the judge has repeatedly expressed frustration with how the prosecution had presented its case against Manafort.

The testimony, stretching across three days and ending Wednesday, created an extraordinary courtroom showdown between the two former Trump campaign aides who were indicted together by Mueller but who have since opted for radically different strategies: Manafort is the lone American charged by Mueller to opt for trial, whereas Gates pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate by testifying against his former boss.

The remaining witnesses include bankers and others familiar with Manafort's real estate portfolio and debts, and they're expected to dive into the gritty details of the prosecution's case on bank and mortgage fraud.

After Downing asked Gates Wednesday whether he had multiple affairs, Judge T.S. Ellis had a private conversation, out of earshot of the jury.

"As a concession to the shortness of life, we need to get it done", Ellis said, after Andres implored him to allow the prosecutors to show the jury documents an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent reviewed. All the while, Manafort signed paperwork indicating he understood that he could face criminal or civil penalties if he lied to the bank.

Defence lawyers for Paul Manafort made a last-ditch attempt on Wednesday to torpedo the key witness at his trial by asking whether he failed to disclose four extramarital affairs.

"It was highly inappropriate to raise the other affairs, and the judge's response was very generous", said Gene Rossi, a former prosecutor who has been attending the trial as a spectator.

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.

I take pride when my clients say "thank you", this recognition of our impact on their success is rewarding.
In one example, Manafort and Gates emailed each other copies of a doctored profit and loss statement they later sent a bank to help Manafort obtain a loan.

Gates, the government's star witness in Manafort's financial fraud trial, testified how, at the behest of his longtime boss, he helped hide millions of dollars in foreign income and submitted fake mortgage and tax documents.

A Manafort lawyer has accused the government's star witness of being immersed in "so many lies" that he can't even remember them all. "I'm not sure why, but there have been certain exchanges at sidebar that have seemed not all that judicious to me", he said.

Moreover, Manafort remains a central figure in the broader inquiry into the Trump campaign's dealings with Russia, including a 2016 Trump Tower meeting at which Russians promised "dirt" on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and his role in watering down the 2016 Republican Party platform position on Ukraine.

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