Judge contrite for scolding prosecutors

Defense in Manafort trial zeroes in on Gates's 'secret life'

Greg Nash

"I'm not very patient, so don't try my patience", Ellis said.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's team has repeatedly clashed in the Paul Manafort case with the Judge T.S. Ellis, who has refused to let prosecutors display photos of Manafort's luxury purchases, urged them to hurry up their questions and has even reprimanded one lawyer for being impolite and not looking at the judge while speaking to him. "There are judges like that, but that's not good for trials". Afterward, Downing dropped the Trump-related line of questioning, moving on to other topics without explanation.

He told jurors how he disguised millions of dollars in foreign income as loans in order to lower Mr Manafort's tax bill.

Gates, who pleaded guilty and is cooperating with Mueller's prosecutors, testified in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, that he helped Manafort falsify documents and move millions of dollars from offshore accounts that were hidden from USA tax authorities.

Gates, who pleaded guilty in February to charges of conspiracy and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, admitted to committing crimes with former business associate Manafort earlier this week.

Ellis sustained an objection from the prosecution and Gates never answered the question about four affairs, but some observers said the damage had already been done.

Gates, a former business partner of Manafort, testified that he began working with Manafort directly in October 2006, and the pair conspired between 2008 and 2015. They have tried several times to impugn his credibility before the jury.

In detailed testimony, Gates has walked prosecutors through the step-by-step process on how he and Manafort doctored and backdated documents.

"Those appear to be substantially different, don't they?" defense attorney Richard Westling asked Magionos, showing her Manafort's signatures on a loan application to the Bank of California and one of the foreign banking documents. Prosecutors agreed to drop a wide variety of additional charges against Gates in exchange for his guilty pleas and cooperation against Manafort.

Those who dealt with Manafort's taxes also testified that even though they asked Manafort whether he maintained any bank accounts overseas, he told them no.

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Manafort was chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, and his longtime deputy was part of the campaign, too.

In December 2016, Manafort sent an "urgent" email to Gates including Calk and Calk's son on a list of people Manafort wanted to receive invitations to Trump's inauguration.

Neither man was charged in connection with their Trump campaign work, but the trial has nonetheless been a distraction for a president who insists Manafort was treated shabbily and who continues to publicly fume about Mueller's investigation into potential ties between his associates and the Kremlin.

But prosecutor Greg Andres followed up by suggesting that Gates and Manafort were not fully truthful.

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.

Legal experts said the judge's criticism of the prosecution has certainly been noticed by the jury, perhaps denting the chance for prosecutors from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team to sell their case that Mr. Manafort engaged in bank and tax fraud. Gates also said Manafort floated banker Stephen Calk's name for consideration as Secretary of the Army, a post he ultimately did not get.

Manafort is facing another trial in Washington, D.C., later this year on other charges brought against him by Mueller, including obstructing justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice and illegal foreign lobbying.

The testimony, stretching across three days, created an extraordinary courtroom showdown between the two former Trump campaign aides who were indicted together.

"I may have made a mistake. Mr. Manafort had the same path", Gates said.

Laporta also testified that she received questionable financial statements from Gates or Manafort.

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