‘Secret life’: Rick Gates forced to reveal affair at Manafort trial

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"You know. Yeah, because on the one hand Gates stole money from him but on the other hand he clearly learned everything that Manafort taught him".

Defense lawyer Kevin Downing guided Gates on a tour through the wide array of lies he's told, and sought to paint him as a man not to be trusted.

The prosecution's star witness against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort admitted on the stand Tuesday that he cheated Manafort, cheated on his wife and may have even cheated the president's inaugural committee. U.S. District court Judge T.S. Ellis III presides.

On Tuesday, the court was shown a series of emails, contracts and what prosecutor Greg Andres referred to as "fake invoices", in which Gates altered the template to show the name of a shell company instead of Manafort's.

The jury has heard how Manafort made tens of millions of dollars working for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

Gates proved essential to prosecutors' attempt to tie Manafort to the dozens of foreign bank accounts in Cyprus, the United Kingdom, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines where he allegedly hid millions of dollars of taxable income from the IRS for almost a decade.

The tensions over Downing's focus on Gates' marital infidelity came after rounds of questioning where the temperature was somewhat cooler than what it had been on Tuesday afternoon, when Downing drubbed Manafort's ex-business deputy about his admission that he embezzled from his former boss, and other alleged criminal activity. Gates also worked on the campaign.

After Gates struggled to recall precisely what he had told Mueller's team, Downing asked if he had been confronted with "so many lies" that he can't keep his story straight. The defense moved on.

Gates, meanwhile, wearing dark blue suit, white shirt and red tie, cut a lonely figure at the witness stand, blinking hard. He told jurors he embezzled from Manafort by filing false expense reports. He also 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. The defense asserted in its opening statement that Gates could have committed the bank fraud, tax fraud and foreign banking crimes that form Manafort's charges.

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After saying Monday that he committed crimes with Manafort, including concealing offshore accounts to avoid reporting them to the US government at tax time and claiming false income to get loans, Manafort defense attorney Kevin Downing asked the witness, "This jury is just supposed to believe you after all the lies that you've told and the fraud you've committed?"

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 said the money in these accounts was earned from Manafort's political campaign work. But Trump has shown interest in the proceedings, tweeting support for Manafort and suggesting he has been treated worse than gangster Al Capone. And prosecutors flashed a note from a meeting Manafort and Gates had in 2013, showing that an unnamed Trump may have received Manafort's Yankees tickets.

Mr Gates told jurors that he had been "tasked" by his boss "to determine how we could lower the taxes".

Gates said he falsely labeled hundreds of thousands of dollars in income as loans to reduce Manafort's tax liability.

Asked why he had lied, Gates said he had done so at Mr Manafort's request.

For most of his testimony, Gates did not look at Mr Manafort, while the defendant stared intently at his former partner.

Manafort to Gates in 2011, telling him to "proceed" with secret foreign wire transfers.

That testimony probably explains one of the minor mysteries of the first week of the Manafort trial.

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