U.S. President Donald Trump's former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates will take the stand for a third day on Wednesday, after admitting he stole money from his former boss Paul Manafort and helped falsify documents to avoid taxes.
Prosecutor Greg Andres objected to the question before Gates could answer. Gates also worked on the campaign.
Gates came on board the Trump campaign with Manafort and stayed for the duration of the campaign, later serving as deputy chairman for Trump's inaugural committee and then starting a pro-Trump PAC.
Prosecutors had intentionally left many of these pieces of evidence blank on an itemized list of documents they are presenting in court, signaling they could be the most sensational and attention-grabbing files in the evidence binder.
Gates testified Tuesday that Manafort hit the roof when faced with an enormous tax bill.
Gates' testified that he and Manafort knew they were committing crimes for years.
Manafort and Gates were the first two people indicted in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.
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"I think Gates was a very poor witness".
As part of his plea agreement to cooperate with prosecutors, Gates also admitted to lying to investigators from the special counsel's office - a fact Downing also seized upon. The case has little to do with either man's work for the Trump campaign, which has only tangentially figured in the trial.
It's a practice he has admitted to doing to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort, and under pressure from Downing, he agreed that it could be called embezzlement.
Undercutting Gates' credibility is the foundation of Manafort's defense.
On Wednesday, Gates initially testified Manafort told him to be truthful during a 2014 interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation about offshore shell companies and bank accounts that contained millions of dollars in proceeds from their Ukrainian political work.
Paul Manafort attorney Kevin Downing asked Rick Gates during questioning Wednesday whether he told the special counsel about four extramarital affairs that Gates had.
Gates and Manafort first met with Dr. K to set up the companies in 2007 in Cyprus, Gates testified.
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However, when Andres returned to the podium for another chance to question Gates, Gates said that Manafort did reach out to a Ukrainian businessman before his Federal Bureau of Investigation interview to get more information about the entity that the businessman used to pay him and to make sure that it was "clean", meaning it was only used to pay Manafort. But Trump has shown interest in the proceedings, tweeting support for Manafort and suggesting he has been treated worse than gangster Al Capone.
Gates, who is awaiting sentencing, told jurors that he siphoned off money without Manafort's knowledge by filing false expense reports.
He said Manafort asked for tickets to Trump's inauguration so he could give them to a banker involved in approving a loan at the center of his financial fraud trial.
Mr Gates told jurors that he had been "tasked" by his boss "to determine how we could lower the taxes". However, Gates also said the agents did not ask about tax returns and "the majority of the Cypriot accounts were closed" at the stage.
In other testimony, Gates recounted how he converted a PDF of a profit-and-loss statement to a Microsoft Word document so he could doctor it to inflate the business' income. Regarding a trading company Manafort had started with a partner in 2011, he asked with deep scepticism: "You're asking the jury to believe Mr Manafort authorised another US$250,000 as a bonus?" He also said he committed credit card and mortgage fraud, falsified a letter for a colleague involved in an investment deal and made false statements in a deposition at Manafort's direction.
That testimony probably explains one of the minor mysteries of the first week of the Manafort trial.
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