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Forensic Accountant Next Up in Manafort Trial as Gates Ends Testimony

Forensic Accountant Next Up in Manafort Trial as Gates Ends Testimony

A confessed felon who helped President Donald Trump get elected wrapped up his testimony against an alleged criminal who ran Trump's presidential campaign on Wednesday, concluding three days of damning revelations about two men working for a president who claimed he hires only "the best people".

"If it doesn't say Men's Warehouse, then I don't know it", Ellis said after learning the pronunciation of the "House of Bijan", where Manafort bought some particularly high-end goods.

Speaking of Ellis, the 78-year-old U.S. District Court judge overseeing the Eastern Virginia trial renewed his angry tone with prosecutors Wednesday. Afterward, Downing dropped the Trump-related line of questioning, moving on to other topics without explanation. Trump was indirectly referenced in multiple ways throughout the testimony, highlighting the risks to the president of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. The government spent all of last week calling to the witness stand accountants who worked with Manafort, and vendors who sold him things. Prosecutors allege Manafort used various ways to hide his income, including wiring money from Ukraine to the United States via a bank in Cyprus and listing it as a loan, and laundering almost $1 million through the purchases of Oriental rugs.

"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. His defence team is seeking to pin the blame on Gates, who they say was responsible for day-to-day operations of the business. They have tried several times to impugn his credibility before the jury.

"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.

Welch said he arrived at the $16.5 million figure based on an accounting method used by Manafort.

Rick Gates has been the government's star witness in Manafort's financial fraud trial, testifying how, at the behest of his longtime boss, he helped hide millions of dollars in foreign income and submitted fake mortgage and tax documents. Gates also provided the first witness testimony that overlaps with Trump's presidential campaign.

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Mr Gates pleaded guilty months later and agreed to co-operate in Mr Mueller's investigation of Mr Manafort, the only American charged by the special counsel to opt for trial instead of a guilty plea.

Manafort, 69, a veteran Republican political operative, was Trump's campaign chairman from May to August 2016, when he was forced to step down amid questions about his work for Ukraine's former pro-Russian leader Viktor Yanukovych. Referring to Manafort's pretrial confinement, Trump asked whether Manafort was being treated worse than Al Capone.

Before the final bang - or was it a whimper? - prosecutors had their own opportunity Wednesday morning to revisit with Gates exactly what he had done by way of financial crimes, and the steep, lifelong outcome of prison time he could face if he told the jury inaccuracies about Manafort. 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.

The email exchange about Calk occurred after Manafort left the Trump campaign but while Gates was active on the Trump inauguration committee.

In one email, Manafort wrote "WTF" and "not happy" about tax payments he was going to have to make, Gates said.

See more from the judge in the clip above, including his thoughts on the testimony of Rick Gates, a former business partner of Manafort. Courtroom illustration courtesy of Bill Hennessy.

Kevin Downing, Manafort's lead defense attorney, sought to undermine Gates' credibility in the eyes of the jury on Tuesday, pressing him about embezzling money from Manafort and an extramarital affair.


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