The Sixth Day of Paul Manafort's Trial Was Indirectly About Donald Trump

Leroy Wright
August 9, 2018

A U.S. Internal Revenue Service agent testified on Wednesday that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is on trial on tax and bank fraud charges, had $16.5 million in unreported taxable business income between 2010 and 2014.

Gates added that Manafort also wanted to give the businessman a heads-up about the FBI's interest in the offshore accounts as part of the USA government's efforts to recover assets stolen under former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Gates told the court Manafort requested he not tell a bookkeeper about payments made from accounts he held in Cyprus, testifying that hundreds of emails show Manafort approved payments out of those accounts, which he said at one point held almost $6 million.

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.

But the grilling got more intense, and personal, when Mr Downing pressed Mr Gates about a "secret life" he said was funded by embezzlement, including an extra-marital affair that Mr Gates himself acknowledged.

Manafort is the first person to be tried on charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 USA election. However, the Manafort case - as President Donald Trump has been quick to point out - focuses on Manafort's business dealings and has no direct connection to Manafort's work with the Trump campaign.

The tough questioning of Gates came after he spent hours telling jurors how he disguised millions of dollars in foreign income as loans in order to lower Manafort's tax bill.

You told me you were on top of this. So frequent were Gates's crimes that he could not answer definitively when asked if he had stolen money from the Trump inauguration committee, for which he served as deputy chairman.

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Named Debby, the subtropical storm is located 900 miles WSW of Azores and is moving North at 16 miles per hour. However, tropical-storm-force winds and pounding, risky surf are possible late Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the court was shown a series of emails, contracts and what prosecutor Greg Andres referred to as "fake invoices", in which Gates altered the template to show the name of a shell company instead of Manafort's. Downing had said he wanted to ask the question because it spoke to whether Gates had lied to Mueller's office, and whether Gates' plea agreement would still be valid. And the fact that after loaning Manafort millions of dollars Calk became an economic adviser to Trump casts doubt on Trump's famous pledge to "drain the swamp" and puncture the rampant influence peddling in Washington.

Regarding a trading company Manafort had started with a partner in 2011, he asked with deep scepticism: "You're asking the jury to believe Mr Manafort authorised another US$250,000 as a bonus?" However, Gates also said the agents did not ask about tax returns and "the majority of the Cypriot accounts were closed" at the stage.

Paul Manafort, seated right row second from right, together with his lawyers, the jury, seated left, and U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, back center, listen to Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye, standing, during opening arguments in Manafort's trial on tax evasion and bank fraud charges.

"I admitted to a previous relationship", Gates said, adding that he maintained a flat for about two months.

Gates, who has pleaded guilty to a federal crime, testified that he organized fraudulent paperwork both with and without Manafort's knowledge. "I'm here", Gates responded. "I'm taking responsibility for it". Gates said he was responsible for collecting all relevant documents for the loan applications.

For this Manafort was paid US$4million a year, in quarterly payments of US$1million, Gates recalled, though at some point the currency switched from U.S. dollars to Euros.

In one email, Manafort wrote "WTF" and "not happy" about tax payments he was going to have to make, Gates said.

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