Cindy Laporta testified Friday in the government's case against the former Trump campaign chairman, saying she went along with the scam because she was anxious Manafort and his right-hand-man Rick Gates would sue. Lawyers for Manafort are looking to undermine Gates' credibility and blame him for any crimes in the case, suggesting that he's told "so many lies" that he can't possibly remember them all.
For the previous two days in court, Gates has testified that he and Manafort committed bank and tax fraud together. He's expected to go for at least another hour in questioning with Manafort's attorney's.
Gates on Monday admitted he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort by filing false bank statements.
Gates described to jurors how he repeatedly submitted fake financial documents at Manafort's behest as his former boss became concerned he was paying too much in taxes and, later, that his funds were drying up.
In a dramatic moment before the jury, Manafort's defence counsel, Kevin Downing, put it to the government's star witness: "There's another life, right, the other Rick Gates?"
Gates appeared shaky at times in answering questions, contrasting sharply with his firm and clear answers to questions by prosecutors. Gates recounted how he and Manafort used more than a dozen offshore shell companies and bank accounts in Cyprus to funnel the money, all while concealing the accounts and the income from the IRS.
Prosecutor Greg Andres pointed out he had created a "loan forgiveness letter between Mr. Manafort and Mr. Manafort". She said Manafort's passport was used to open many of them in USA dollars, euros and British pounds.
Ahead of that barrage, Gates implicated himself in a vast amount of criminal conduct on the stand, an apparent strategic decision by prosecutors as they hoped to take some of the steam out of the defense's questioning.
Possible sighting of Mollie Tibbetts in Missouri
This is a developing story; we'll keep you updated. "Sometimes I just feel her sitting on my shoulder", she said. She was last seen wearing dark coloring running shorts, a pink shirt, and running shoes.
In one example, Manafort and Gates emailed each other copies of a doctored profit and loss statement they later sent a bank to help Manafort obtain a loan. But Gates conceded he took business trips to Las Vegas with an accused fraudster, Steven Brown, using money from Manafort's accounts in the U.S. "I am here. I have accepted responsibility and I am trying to change". Gates has already pled guilty to two counts in Mueller's probe and testified against Manafort as part of a plea deal with the special counsel's office.
During a series of redirect questions on Wednesday, Manafort's attorney Kevin Downing asked Gates if he remembers telling special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russian Federation probe MORE's office that he had four extramarital affairs.
As well as being a senior aide on Trump's election campaign, Gates served as the deputy chairman of the U.S. president's inaugural committee.
Gates also said that he did not report 15 foreign offshore bank accounts to the government. Gates testified that he'd followed Manafort's instructions as they set up Cypriot and other foreign bank accounts, moved money from Ukrainians into the United States, made sure Manafort's name was scrubbed from the accounts, then lied to the IRS and banks.
A day earlier, Gates acknowledged having a single extramarital relationship in London while working for Manafort.
The trial is the first stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller's 14-month investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Mr Downing asked Gates.
Gates said under questioning Wednesday that he told Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and Justice Department lawyers about some of the offshore companies that contained millions of dollars in proceeds from their Ukrainian political work. Manafort and Gates left no fingerprints. But inside the courtroom, trial proceedings had plodded along almost Trump-free. She also said Manafort told Banc of California that his company made almost $4.5 million when the actual amount was $400,000.
And Gates faced fraud charges from the special counsel after it discovered he had written a letter to a Swiss movie production company falsely claiming that his own production company was investing in a film project by his friend, Steve Brown.