Defense in Manafort trial zeroes in on Gates's 'secret life'

Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort had 15 undisclosed foreign accounts and spent years hiding millions of dollars to evade tax, his former deputy has claimed.

He has pleaded guilty to helping Manafort hide payments from Manafort's consulting work with pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine to dodge taxes. Mr Mueller's team is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and whether any Trump associates conspired with those efforts.

Sometimes, however, Gates said he would perform the same task without Manafort's direction or knowledge in order to embezzle funds from his employer.

He appeared to hedge at points, reluctant to speak plainly of his crimes.

Gates, replying to a question by Downing, also said "it's possible" that he submitted personal expenses to be reimbursed by the inaugural committee. "This is a disaster".

Gates testified Tuesday that Manafort hit the roof when faced with an enormous tax bill. Gates was asked about 11 Cypriot accounts, and he testified that they were all owned by Ukrainian businessmen.

And later that year, while trying to get another loan, Manafort himself asked Gates for a version of the firm's 2016 Profit & Loss Statement that could be edited, Gates testified. Gates is considered the prosecution's star witness. The crimes Manafort allegedly committed do not have bearing on that central question, but they were uncovered in the course of the special counsel investigation; this is the first trial resulting from Mueller's probe.

Gates also acknowledged creating a fraudulent letter for movie producer and political operative Steven Brown, who pleaded guilty in April to participating in a scheme that defrauded investors of over $9.5 million involving false documents.

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Behind the scenes, he was equally integral. When Weissmann has come to the courtroom - and he has not been spotted every day - he has sat alongside members of the public. "I provided false information to the special counsel office prior to my plea agreement", Gates said.

It is possible Weissmann is preparing to Manafort's next trial in D.C. - which touches on issues similar to those in Virginia but delves more deeply into Manafort's work in Ukraine and the US registration requirements associated with it. Weissmann made a filing in that case as recently as Monday. He admitted that on his own.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's longtime aide Rick Gates, accused by a Manafort lawyer at Manafort's trial on Tuesday of using business expenses for an affair, admitted to the extramarital relationship. But a transcript of a bench conference held before the cross-examination shows that Downing hadn't planned to get into his infidelity.

Mr Gates told jurors that he had been "tasked" by his boss "to determine how we could lower the taxes".

In an aggressive cross-examination on Tuesday, Manafort's lead attorney, Kevin Downing, said to Gates: "You stole from Mr. Manafort". That area of questions could come first thing Wednesday morning, when Gates returns to the stand to face more of Downing's inquisition.

Gates replied that that was several years ago, and referenced a "relationship".

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?"

Four employees at Dr. K's firm established and named the entities - Leviathan Ltd. and Peranova Ltd. are two of the more high-profile examples - where Manafort and Gates held millions of dollars of payments to Manafort's Davis Manafort Partners (DMP) and DMP International from their overseas political clients.

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