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Rick Gates, testifying in Manafort trial, admits to affair, London apartment

10 August 2018
Rick Gates, testifying in Manafort trial, admits to affair, London apartment

In one exchange published in court Wednesday, Manafort instructs his Cypriot lawyer, Kypros Chrysostomides - referred to in court as "Dr. K" because, according to Gates, his name is hard to spell and pronounce - to transfer money from the Manafort-controlled Leviathan Ltd. Downing asked Gates Tuesday, a rhetorical question everyone present at the trial with any courtroom experience saw coming a mile away.

The star witness in Paul Manafort's financial fraud trial says the former Trump campaign chairman told him to be truthful about offshore shell companies and bank accounts during a 2014 interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Gates, who pleaded guilty in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation in February, has testified that he helped Manafort falsify his tax returns, lie to banks to get loans and hide foreign bank accounts that Manafort used to receive payments from oligarchs for political work he did in Ukraine.

More broadly, this trial is a direct result of the special counsel's investigation into the Trump's campaign contacts with Russian Federation. Andres put it to him: "As you sit here today, do you have any doubt that if you lie, the special counsel's office will rip up your plea agreement?"

Gates acknowledged that he did for two months and that he took first-class flights and stayed in "fancy hotels" around Europe, but said the money came from bonuses rather than illicit gains. Maybe I made a mistake.

But Downing wasn't able to re-ask Gates about four extramarital affairs.

Andres quickly rose to his feet to interrupt: "Objection!"

"The only answer I was told was to tell the truth", Gates replied. Downing then stepped back in with a bombshell, suggesting Gates's "secret life" included multiple extramarital affairs. A device was activated to generate white noise so their conversation could not be heard.

According to Gates, Manafort, who had by then left the campaign, asked Gates in various ways to use his position on Trump's team to do favors for Stephen Calk, a banker who had loaned Manafort millions of dollars - loans that Mueller's team alleges were consummated under false pretenses. His seat was turned at such an angle that there was no risk of eye contact with Manafort. "I thought he was needlessly evasive and argumentative", said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. Attorney in MI who has been watching the trial and said she observed jurors reacting with negative body language as he testified.

She said even though she worked with Gates a lot, it was clear to her that Manafort "knew what was going on" in most instances.

Paul Manafort's protege on Wednesday wrapped up his testimony after implicating the former Trump campaign chairman and himself in financial crimes and also enduring stinging attacks on his character and credibility.

Morgan Magionos told jurors Wednesday that bank records from Cyprus, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the United Kingdom revealed the accounts were connected to Manafort and his associates.

The prosecution has put forward almost 20 witnesses - including Manafort's longtime deputy Rick Gates - and a trove of documentary evidence as they've sought to prove Manafort defrauded banks and concealed millions of dollars in offshore bank accounts from the IRS.

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 US government's efforts to recover assets stolen under former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The income and the accounts, however, were not reported.

The interview was part of an FBI investigation that sought to recover assets looted from the Ukrainian government under the rule of former President Viktor Yanukovych.

Prosecutors relied on Gates to provide first-hand support of the accusations against Manafort. The meeting has previously been cited in court documents.