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Napolitano: Judge in Manafort Trial Showing an 'Extraordinary Bias' Against the Government

Napolitano: Judge in Manafort Trial Showing an 'Extraordinary Bias' Against the Government

Rick Gates has finished three days' worth of dramatic testimony in federal court against his former business partner, ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort - but not before defense lawyers caused a stir by pressing him for details on his past infidelity.

Downing said his point was not that Gates cheated on his wife but that "he was leading a separate secret life from Mr. Manafort and from others" and that he embezzled from his boss to fund that lifestyle.

On Wednesday, Gates initially testified Manafort told him to be truthful during a 2014 interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation about offshore shell companies and bank accounts that contained millions of dollars in proceeds from their Ukrainian political work.

Manafort and Gates were the first two people indicted in Mueller's investigation into potential ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign. Prosecutors objected and Gates never answered the question. "I'm not sure why, but there have been certain exchanges at sidebar that have seemed not all that judicious to me", he said.

Gates, 46, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and is cooperating with the government as it prosecutes Manafort for allegedly evading U.S. taxes on tens of millions of dollars earned from political consulting work they did together in Ukraine from 2006 to 2014.

Gates's testimony wrapped moment later.

After Gates struggled to recall precisely what he had told Mueller's team, Downing asked if he had been confronted with "so many lies" that he can't keep his story straight.

For the previous two days in court, Gates has testified that he and Manafort committed bank and tax fraud together.

His actions came under scrutiny as part of the broader investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election run by Mueller.

"I acknowledge I had a period of time when I had another relationship", said Gates, who is married and has four children.

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.

While businesses can deduct losses from theft, Welch said on redirect by one of the prosecutors: "If money is stolen from money that is untaxed, there is no deduction".

In an aggressive cross-examination on Tuesday, Manafort's lead attorney Downing said to Gates: "You stole from Mr. Manafort". That includes longtime Manafort deputy Rick Gates, who testified against his former boss.

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.

Downing also asked whether Mueller's investigators had interviewed Gates about his role in the campaign, prompting an objection from prosecutors and a sidebar conference with U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III.

Gates, meanwhile, wearing dark blue suit, white shirt and red tie, cut a lonely figure at the witness stand, blinking hard.

The tough questioning of Gates came after he spent hours telling jurors how he disguised millions of dollars in foreign income as loans in order to lower Manafort's tax bill. Gates said he was responsible for collecting all relevant documents for the loan applications.

Gates added that Manafort also wanted to give the businessman a heads-up about the FBI's interest in the offshore accounts as part of the US government's efforts to recover assets stolen under former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

"It's possible", Gates, who was a Trump campaign aide, replied.

"He always had control over the accounts", Gates said of Manafort, and the income was not reported to his bookkeepers, his accountants or the United States tax authorities.

Gates said he and Manafort turned to a Cypriot lawyer, whom he referred to in court as "Dr K", who set up bank accounts and shell companies on Manafort's behalf and "handled everything".

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