Manafort’s former business partner drops bombshell testimony

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The trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is entering Day Six today in Alexandria, Virginia, with federal prosecutors planning to obtain additional testimony from their star witness: Manafort's former business partner, Rick Gates.

At some point this week, Manafort's former right-hand man, Rick Gates, is expected to take the witness stand. Gates, who also served on Trump's campaign, pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors under a deal that could lead to a reduced sentence.

Gates said he conspired with Manafort to falsify tax returns, knowingly failed to report foreign bank accounts and failed to register Manafort as a foreign agent.

Manafort's defense team wants to pin any potential crimes on Gates, who admitted in court he embezzled "several hundred thousand" dollars from Manafort in that period.

Manafort's political activities were not limited to the U.S.by any means: government prosecutors are alleging that he evaded taxes on $15 million worth of income earned while promoting former Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovych.

A $1 million payment for work in 2014 was "significantly past due" and "Mr. Manafort was quite upset the money had not been sent", Gates told the court. He said he did so at Manafort's direction.

The criminal case has nothing to do with either man's work for the Trump campaign and there's been no discussion during the trial about whether the Trump campaign co-ordinated with Russian Federation - the central question Mueller's team has tried to answer. Gates' admission, on his first day of testimony under a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, is key to rebutting the prime counter-narrative that Manafort is trying to tell the jury: that.

He testified about a complex scheme in which earnings from Manafort's political work in Ukraine would be paid by Ukrainian businessmen using companies in Cyprus to other Cyprus-based companies controlled by Manafort. When Robert Mueller began investigating Russian interference previous year, Manafort's questionable lobbying work - the sort of activity that has historically rarely been investigated in Washington - was put under a microscope, exposing him and his associates.

Ms Laporta detailed multiple examples in which Mr Manafort and Mr Gates sought to doctor financial records, first in order to lower Mr Manafort's taxable income and then later to inflate his income so he could get bank loans.

But Ms Laporta's testimony raised the stakes for Mr Manafort, legal experts said.

In one exchange, Downing questioned Laporta about her communications with Gates regarding a bank loan Manafort wanted to apply for in 2015.

Some of the manoeuvres were at the request of Gates, while others implicated Manafort, Laporta testified.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis repeatedly clashed with prosecutors about the relevance of such testimony and once again urged them to speed things along. One accounting trick saved Manafort $500,000 in taxes, she said.

"In most instances it was clear Mr. Manafort knew what was going on", Laporta said.

Laporta thought that was odd, so she asked Gates for information about the $2.4 million Manafort was supposedly owed.

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