Gates wraps testimony, says he made 'mistakes'

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

The star witness in Paul Manafort's financial fraud trial says the former Trump campaign chairman told him to be truthful about offshore shell companies and bank accounts during a 2014 interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Paul Manafort's former "right-hand man" admitted Tuesday that he embezzled from their consulting firm, engaged in fraud, lied to the special counsel, and conducted an global extramarital affair.

Kevin Downing, right, attorney for Paul Manafort, leaves federal court after attending the trial on tax evasion and bank fraud of the former Donald Trump campaign chairman in Alexandria, Va., on Tuesday.

Instead, Manafort is charged with evading taxes and bank fraud related to the money he made providing political consulting services in Ukraine.

Earlier Tuesday, Gates told the court that Manafort would frequently pay for clothing, landscaping and other personal expenses using wire transfers directly from his bank accounts in Cyprus and others in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The "sole objective", Gates said, was to facilitate Ukrainian payments to Manafort.

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.

"Mr Manafort directed me to not report those accounts", Gates testified.

Prosecutors have noted that Gates and Manafort were not the targets of the investigation at the time of the interview. "We don't plan on doing that, but we plan on questioning him about what we call his, you know, separate secret life and how ... it relates to money he had stolen, embezzled, and things that he was doing, but specifically as to infidelity, we do not think we're going to get into that". He was expected to be the prosecution's star witness in the case after reaching a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller's team.

"I'm here to tell the truth and take responsibility for my actions", Gates said in response to a question from Downing about his trustworthiness.

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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.

For the first time, the jury heard about the extent that Manafort and Gates had worked for the Trump campaign.

"In Cyprus, they were documented as loans".

Prosecutor Greg Andres pointed out that he had created a "loan forgiveness letter between Mr. Manafort and Mr. Manafort".

While Gates endured his second day on the witness stand on Tuesday, he also recounted the many legally troubling falsehoods he resorted to while working alongside Manafort.

The veteran Republican operative is not on trial for anything he did while serving for three months in 2016 as chairman of Trump's presidential campaign. Both sides have agreed to limit discussion of the campaign to avoid prejudicing the jury, though they did permit testimony about the overlap of a bank loan with Manafort's role in the Trump election effort.

Part of that record were several emails Manafort sent Gates. But Trump has shown interest in the proceedings, tweeting support for Manafort and suggesting he has been treated worse than gangster Al Capone.

Gates' voice remained steady and calm throughout his roughy six hours of testimony Tuesday.

Mr Andres asked Gates whether he understood that his lies and omissions were illegal. Prosecutors allege that the bank lent Manafort money based on fraudulent documents, and that Calk was named an adviser to the campaign and sought the Army post as part of a quid pro quo. He frequently used the phrases "It's possible" and "I don't recall" as Downing challenged him about inconsistencies in testimony he gave to the special counsel's office.

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