Paul Manafort was deep in debt, he saw an opportunity in Trump

Paul Manafort was deep in debt, he saw an opportunity in Trump

Jonah Green has more.

At one point Wednesday, after a prosecutor played coy about a key witness testifying, reporters scurried to break the news like "rats", outspoken Judge T.S. Ellis III remarked.

The former Justice Department attorney who spoke to Roll Call expects the prosecution to call a summary witness - a federal agent who gathered facts during the case's investigation phase - toward the trial's conclusion to testify about evidence that shows Manafort opened more than 30 accounts in four different countries under his name, including shell companies that sent Manafort and Gates the money that they classified as "loans".

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors are walking the jury in the trial of Paul Manafort through the records to back their claim that the former Trump campaign chairman deceived his own financial advisers to hide his foreign accounts and income from US tax authorities.

Manafort's attorneys have signalled they will seek to blame Gates and have accused him of embezzling millions of dollars from Manafort.

On today, Laporta acknowledged that she agreed under pressure from Gates during a conference call in September 2015 to alter a tax document for one of Manafort's businesses to show the $900,000 loan.

Manafort is now fighting in court charges of 18 financial crimes, including submitting false income tax returns to the IRS.

"There normally wasn't a response, they just said it was a loan", Mr. Ayliff testified of the response he got from Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates.

On Friday, a tax preparer named Cindy Laporta admitted that she helped disguise $900,000 in foreign income as a loan in order to reduce Manafort's tax burden.

"I could have called them liars", she said of Manafort and Gates.

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

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In his opening statement, Manafort attorney Thomas Zehnle said: "Rick was handling the financial operations, and he was communicating directly with the company's bookkeepers and the company's tax accountants".

When Gates pleaded guilty earlier this year, Manafort said he had "hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue to battle to prove our innocence".

Gates has been described by witnesses as Manafort's right-hand man who helped run the operations of a multimillion-dollar political consulting business. When pressed as to who "he" referred to, Laporta said, "Paul Manafort". As part of this email chain, O'Brian allegedly wrote "The loan amount may need to be changed".

Similar to prior witnesses, Laporta testified that Gates and Manafort were in lockstep but that Manafort was in charge.

The testimony about spending came as President Trump publicly came to Manafort's defense, tweeting that prosecutors were treating him unfairly and attacking the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that led to the charges against Manafort. "These old charges have nothing to do with Collusion - a Hoax!"

Paul Manafort told tax preparers on multiple occasions that he didn't control any foreign bank accounts. Manafort's tax returns have not yet been introduced into evidence.

A former accountant whose firm prepared business and personal taxes for Manafort and his wife is scheduled to resume testimony on Friday. But he said Manafort authorized those discussions, and Gates and Manafort never contradicted each other.

Prosecutors charged that Manafort lied on applications for bank and mortgage loans by back-dating loans issued by one of his foreign entities to his consulting company.

Asonye walked jurors through Manafort's tax returns on Friday to back the prosecution's claim that he hid his foreign accounts and income from US tax authorities.

But in August, she emailed the bank, Federal Savings Bank, with Manafort and Washkuhn copied, and said the $2.4 million of additional income would be reflected on Manafort's financial statement by November 2016.

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