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Star witness Rick Gates’ testimony ends after Paul Manafort lawyer’s attacks

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Star government witness Rick Gates ended three days of testimony on Wednesday after admitting he lied, stole money and cheated as lawyers for U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort attacked his character.

As Gates took the witness stand for the final time at the tax and bank fraud trial of his former boss, Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing asked if his “secret life” spanned the years 2010 to 2014.

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“I have made many mistakes over many years,” Gates, 46, replied in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.

Downing spent several hours on Tuesday firing questions at Gates to attack his credibility as a witness, bringing up lies, an extramarital affair in London he used the firm’s expenses to pay for and money he embezzled from Manafort. Downing also asked whether he submitted personal expenses when he worked for Republican Trump’s inaugural committee.

Manafort is the first person to be tried on charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Manafort made millions of dollars working for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians before he took an unpaid position with the Trump campaign that lasted five months.

Gates, who pleaded guilty to charges in February and is cooperating for the possibility of a reduced sentence, testified that he helped Manafort falsify his tax returns, lie to banks to get loans and hide foreign bank accounts.

Gates, a married father of four, faced tough questioning under cross-examination on Tuesday about his leading a “secret life.”

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“In essence, I was living beyond my means,” Gates said. “I’m taking responsibility for it. I made a mistake.”

Prosecutors on Wednesday planned to call an FBI forensic expert who traced Manafort’s accounts.

Manafort, a longtime Republican political consultant, has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank fraud, tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. According to testimony, he used the accounts to receive payments from Ukrainian oligarchs.

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Manafort’s defense team’s has tried to pin much of the blame for financial crimes on Gates and raise doubts about his ethics and morals.

Prosecutor Greg Andres addressed the defense lawyer’s questions about whether the special counsel’s office had tried to coach Gates on how to testify.

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“The only answer I was told was to tell the truth,” Gates replied.

Manafort’s conviction would undermine efforts by Trump and some Republican lawmakers to paint Mueller’s inquiry as a political witch hunt, while an acquittal would be a setback for Mueller.

Moreover, Manafort remains a central figure in the broader inquiry into the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia, including a 2016 Trump Tower meeting at which Russians promised “dirt” on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and his role in watering down the 2016 Republican Party platform position on Ukraine.

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

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.

Gates also admitted that he covertly wired funds out of Manafort’s offshore accounts to line his own pockets, using the same tricks he deployed to help doctor and falsify records for Manafort.

Downing seized on those admissions to try and cast doubt on whether the jury can trust Gates’ claims that he only carried out the fraud alleged by prosecutors at Manafort’s behest.

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Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, Nathan Layne and Karen Freifeld; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Grant McCool


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Trump spent 45 minutes talking with cast of right-wing play dramatizing ‘Deep State’ conspiracy theories: report

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The coronavirus emergency has given President Donald Trump one of the most daunting tests of his administration, with less than a year to go before he stands for re-election.

And yet in the midst of all the chaos, one thing the president found time to do on Thursday was meet with the cast of a bizarre right-wing play dramatizing the supposed "deep state" plot at the FBI to frame Trump in the Russia investigation.

According to The Daily Beast, Trump spent 45 minutes talking with the people behind "FBI Lovebirds: Undercovers," which focuses on the affair between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. The leading roles of Strzok and Page were played by Dean Cain, the former Superman actor, and Kristy Swanson, who played the starring role in the 1992 Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie.

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All US Navy ships in the Pacific near countries with coronavirus ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days

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CNN National Security reporter Ryan Browne tweeted Thursday that the U.S. Navy has ordered all of its vessels in the Pacific that have been near countries with COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, "to remain at sea for at least 14 days before pulling into another port in order to monitor sailors for any symptoms of the virus."

Health experts have said that the two-week period should give enough time for infected people to become aware that they are sick.

The highly-contagious disease has spread very quickly in South Korea and California after public exposure. The first person verified with "community-spread" transmission was identified just outside of Sacramento, California.

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‘Most wicked to ever represent Cleveland’: Jim Jordan ripped by hometown paper for covering up sex scandal

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President Trump likes to call his enemies 'sleaze bags" and Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan a "warrior," but according to Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Brent Larkin, Trump has it backward.

While Jordan may not seem like the worse politician to ever come out of Ohio, the "crimes" he's committed "don't involve felonies," according to Larkin. "They are crimes against America, crimes involving total disregard for the principles of democracy, trampling the truth on behalf of a corrupt president who revels in his inhumanity."

Watching Jordan question witnesses during the House impeachment inquiry particularly incensed Larkin, who writes that it was like watching a man who "spent his childhood gleefully ripping wings off flies."

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