Star witness ends testimony in fraud trial of ex-Trump campaign chief

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

After Gates described his theft as "unauthorized transactions" instead of embezzlement, Downing prodded him to use the latter term - and Gates ultimately relented, saying, "It was embezzlement from Mr. Manafort". "The secret Rick Gates?".

But after a lengthy conference between lawyers before U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, Downing asked Gates only about the time span of his "secret life". Or you have to keep those feelings to yourself, not manifest them.

"Yes, I made a decision", Gates said. "I had a period of time when I had another relationship", he added. On Tuesday, he admitted it was possible he had sought to cheat the committee with false expenses claims. Gates also said he may have submitted personal expenses for reimbursement by Trump's inaugural committee, which he helped operate.

Gates answered: "I don't recall".

Prosecutors called their second government witness of the trial to the stand Wednesday to outline the investigative methods that led to the tax evasion charges against Manafort.

"Do you remember telling the office of the special counsel you actually engaged in four extramarital affairs?" "Did you provide false information or did you have a bad memory?" he asked.

In addition, Gates has admitted to other criminal conduct. "I did, to one count, your honour", he said.

During the testimony, Manafort did not stare Gates down as he did Monday.

On Tuesday, Downing asked how the jury could believe Gates "after all the lies you told and fraud you committed".

Downing wondered aloud why Gates had shown "perfect recollection" during examination by the government but was now much less precise under cross-examination by Manafort's defence.

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Mr Gates, the prosecution's star witness, recounted how he and Mr Manafort used offshore shell companies and bank accounts in Cyprus to funnel the money, all while failing to declare the income to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Mr Mueller, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation director, has indicted more than 30 people - including 26 Russians - in connection with his probe into whether members of Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to help get the real estate tycoon elected.

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. Prosecutors say Manafort paid taxes on only about half of his foreign income.

Gates told the court in Alexandria, Virginia, that he had met with government lawyer Greg Andres and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents 20 times and been told only to tell the truth, without any guarantee that he will be spared prison.

Defence lawyers saw an opening to undermine his testimony by painting him as liar and a philanderer, getting him to admit to an extramarital affair and reminding jurors how he had lied to special counsel Robert Mueller's team while working out a plea deal for himself.

Ellis, known for his courtroom humor and occasional scolding of lawyers, has set strict boundaries on Manafort's trial. His consultancy work also included "Engage Ukraine", an effort to help Ukraine join the European Union. After Yanukovych lost power in 2014, "I would say it decreased the income stream", Gates, wearing a blue suit, told the court matter-of-factly. Prosecutors had previously said that Manafort's interactions with Calk were the only part of the trial expected to overlap with his Trump campaign role.

When an individual sets up an entity in Cyprus, Gates explained, their name does not appear on any of the paperwork. He also testified that he pressed the firm's accountants to reclassify loans as income so the company could qualify for more bank loans or get favorable lending rates. Andres asked on Wednesday.

Without hesitating, Gates replied: "Yes".

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

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