Takeaways From Day 8 of the Paul Manafort Trial

Friday, 10 Aug, 2018

Rick Gates, the star witness in Paul Manafort's fraud trial, concluded his testimony Wednesday with high drama.

Gates, who is married and has four children, acknowledged having had a "relationship" a decade ago and admitted to stealing from his boss during a "difficult time" in his life by inflating personal expenses.

That's important to prosecutors, who need to not only prove Manafort skimped on paying millions of dollars in taxes.

Downing spent several hours on Tuesday firing questions at Gates to attack his credibility as a witness, bringing up lies, an extramarital affair in London he used the firm's expenses to pay for and money he embezzled from Manafort. "Mr. Manafort had the same path".

While the defense's strategy seems focused destroying Gates' trustworthiness in the eyes of the jury, prosecutors have sought to broaden their case so it's not completely reliant on him.

Gates, also a former Trump campaign aide, has claimed during three days of evidence that he both stole for and stole from Manafort, who denies 18 counts of bank and tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.

Attorneys for special counsel Robert Mueller also got a rare - and narrow - acknowledgment from U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III that he likely erred when he angrily confronted them a day earlier over whether he had allowed a witness to watch the trial. Downing asking, drawing an immediate objection from Greg Andres, the special counsel's lead prosecutor.

The prosecution's case against Manafort doesn't rest exclusively on Gates.

Paul Manafort lied about the status of his two properties in NY in order to fraudulently obtain a $3.4 million loan, according to testimony Thursday.

Gates said he did not.

He also said Manafort should have reported multiple foreign bank accounts to the IRS in those years.

That private "sidebar" conversation came after Manafort's attorneys asked Rick Gates about his discussions with Mueller's team - an indication that those conversations between Gates and Mueller's prosecutors could have revealed information relevant to Mueller's probe of Russian election interference.

Manafort's conviction would undermine efforts by Trump and some Republican lawmakers to paint Mueller's inquiry as a political witch hunt, while an acquittal would be a setback for Mueller.

"You may put that aside..." In a filing to the court, prosecutors said that on the first day of the trial, they had told Ellis that Welch would remain in the courtroom, and he had not objected then.

The 46-year-old, who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and is cooperating with the government, began the day by describing how he helped Manafort evade United States taxes on millions of dollars earned from political consulting work they did in Ukraine.

"The jury is very sensitive to what it perceives, correctly or not, to be the judge's view of the case", Gillers said. "This robe doesn't make me anything other than human".

Within two months of securing the aforementioned $3.4 million loan from Citizens Bank in March 2016, Manafort applied for another loan - for $5.5 million - for his Brooklyn property, Citizens Bank loan officer assistant Taryn Rodriguez testified Thursday afternoon.

But while the trial has only vaguely touched on the Trump campaign directly, and the core allegations of the indictment don't have much of anything to do with Trump, the trial has raised a key unanswered question about why Manafort agreed to join the Trump campaign for free.

Ellis told the jury Thursday that he was "probably wrong" in his belief Wednesday that he had told prosecutors none of their witnesses would be allowed to observe the trial. I hope Manafort said "thank you" at least.

"I may have made a mistake". He testified that Mr. Manafort directed him not to report the existence of offshore bank accounts that prosecutors allege were used to hide millions of.