Star witness Rick Gates to testify for third day in Manafort trial

Star witness Rick Gates to testify for third day in Manafort trial

Judge T.S. Ellis said he was "probably wrong" for criticizing prosecutors over one of their witnesses, IRS revenue agent Michael Welch, being in the courtroom observing the trial leading up to his testimony, according to CNN.

The judge's comments come after prosecutors said in a written filing that Ellis had authorized Welch to watch the trial and the reprimand could have prejudiced the jury.

"Don't do that again", he bellowed at Mr. Asoyne.

On Thursday, prosecutors in a legal filing asked the judge to correct some statements he had made on Wednesday.

Paul Manafort collected more than $65 million in foreign accounts for his Ukrainian political work from 2010-2014 and spent more than $15 million in the same period on real estate, landscaping, home improvement and luxury items like his ostrich and python jackets, an Federal Bureau of Investigation witness told jurors on Wednesday. Jurors have heard testimony that Manafort transferred money from those accounts to pay for cars, custom suits, landscaping services and other luxuries.

Ellis has repeatedly pushed prosecutors to whittle down their case to save time.

The testimony, stretching across three days and ending Wednesday, created an extraordinary courtroom showdown between the two former Trump campaign aides who were indicted together by Mueller but who have since opted for radically different strategies: Manafort is the lone American charged by Mueller to opt for trial, whereas Gates pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate by testifying against his former boss.

"It actually kind of shows in real time the course of months of investigation where they painstakingly did a jigsaw puzzle of records", former USA prosecutor Harry Litman said of Magionos' testimony.

Prosecutors sandwiched the testimony of Gates around other witnesses who, in sometimes dry and detailed testimony, described Manafort's lavish spending and use of offshore accounts to stash Ukrainian political consulting fees.

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But prosecutor Greg Andres followed up by suggesting that Gates and Manafort were not fully truthful.

The trial of Paul Manafort, U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, is expected to shift focus on Thursday from his alleged tax evasion to bank fraud as the prosecution's case heads into its final two days.

On Tuesday, Gates did connect one part of the bank fraud charges against Manafort to his role in the Trump campaign.

The judge has subjected the prosecution to repeated tongue-lashings over the pace of their questioning, their massive amount of trial exhibits and even their facial expressions. He finished his testimony Wednesday, Day 7 of the trial.

Laporta admitted on the witness stand last Friday that during a conference call in September 2015, she agreed, on Gates' urging, to alter a tax document for one of Manafort's businesses in order to disguise $900,000 in foreign income as a loan, according to the Associated Press, thus reducing Manafort's tax burden by almost half a million dollars.

Paul Manafort's attorney Kevin Downing on Wednesday asked whether longtime Manafort deputy Rick Gates had four extramarital affairs - and not just one overseas 10 years ago - implying that Gates might have lied to special counsel Robert Mueller's team and could put his plea deal in jeopardy. "I made a mistake".

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. It's the first trial to emerge from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether any of Trump's associates conspired with those efforts, though Manafort's case is not about those issues. "I'm trying to change".

Prosecutors relied on Gates to provide first-hand support of the accusations against Manafort.

That, Downing said, would invalidate his plea deal.

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