Manafort defense asks Gates about additional extramarital affairs

Paul Manafort's associate says 'hundreds' of emails prove former Trump campaign chief directed fraud

Rick Gates, the ex-Trump campaign aide and Paul Manafort's business partner, is on the witness stand for the third day in Manafort's first criminal trial. In the filing, they argued that Ellis should instruct the jury that he made an error in admonishing them during the testimony of IRS agent Michael Welch.

"I am here to tell the truth and to take responsibility for my actions".

"Judge Ellis seems to want the lawyers to try the case the way he would try the case", said Gillers.

He barked at U.S. Attorney Greg Andres to "focus sharply" - a common refrain of his over the past week - when Andres asked permission for Magionos to testify about charts she put together detailing the flow of money from Manafort's foreign accounts to various vendors in the U.S.

Gates said that Manafort asked him to meet with one of the Ukrainian businessmen involved in paying him millions of dollars to find out if one of the shell companies used to pay him was a "clean entity".

While Gates and others have pleaded guilty, Manafort has refused to strike a deal and legal experts say he may be holding out hopes of a pardon from Trump. Even before the trial began, he accused Mr. Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian meddling in the 2016 election, of using the case as a way to gather evidence against President Trump.

Prosecutors also say the men falsified documents to lie to banks in order to qualify Manafort for loans.

Gates was hired by Manafort to serve as deputy campaign chairman and later had a role on Mr Trump's inaugural committee.

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.

Downing summed up his questioning by asking Gates: "After all these lies, and the fraud you have committed, you expect this jury to believe you?"

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Mueller, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation director, has indicted more than 30 people - including 26 Russians - in connection with his probe into whether members of Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to help get the real estate tycoon elected.

The aggressive questioning was aimed at shifting blame from Mr Manafort onto Mr Gates, who pleaded guilty in Mr Mueller's investigation and agreed to co-operate with investigators by testifying in the financial fraud trial.

In several instances, Manafort signed documents to open accounts, and a copy of his passport was found in the files, she said. They made a mistake when they confirmed me.

"He always had control over the accounts", Gates said of Manafort, and the income was not reported to his bookkeepers, his accountants or the USA tax authorities. He also admitted to embezzling money from other employers in the past.

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 USA dollars to Euros.

This was a way to decrease Manafort's taxable income, added Gates, who did not report the money to Manafort's book-keeper or accountants.

FBI forensic accountant Morgan Magionos walked jurors through her special counsel-ordained investigation that revealed how Manafort purchased luxury goods back in the US through foreign bank accounts. While many of them have been out of earshot of the jury, the judge has repeatedly expressed frustration with how the prosecution had presented its case against Manafort.

NBC's Pete Williams also reported that prosecutors want Ellis to "explain to the jury that he was out of line when he reprimanded them over allowing an IRS agent witness to watch other testimony", according to NBC's Ken Dilanian.

Attorney Kevin Downing suggested the revelation would destroy Rick Gates's plea agreement with the special counsel's office but was blocked by an instant government objection.

Manafort was chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, and his longtime deputy was part of the campaign, too.

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