Star witness Rick Gates to testify for third day in Manafort trial

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

But the grilling got more intense, and personal, Tuesday afternoon when Downing pressed Gates about a "secret life" he said was funded by embezzlement, including an extramarital affair that Gates himself acknowledged.

Manafort's lawyer suggested that the affair - which included a London pad, first-class plane trips and luxury hotels - cost up to $3 million.

Rick Gates leaves federal court in Washington, Feb. 23, 2018.

Prosecutors summoned Gates to give jurors the first-hand account of a co-conspirator they say helped Manafort carry out an elaborate offshore tax-evasion and bank fraud scheme. "Mr. Manafort had the same path", Gates said.

The questioning is part of the Manafort defense strategy of presenting Gates to the jury as someone who lies and can not be trusted.

Gates testified that Manafort had instructed him to be "open" with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in that interview about how they were paid. Cindy Laporta, one of the accountants, also testified that Manafort and Gates had used phony loan documents to improperly reduce Manafort's income and lower his tax bill.

Prosecutors also say the men falsified documents to lie to banks in order to qualify Manafort for loans.

In another heated exchange, Downing tried to press Gates into explicitly saying that he had embezzled money from Manafort.

Gates was indicted alongside Manafort in October, but he later pleaded guilty to lesser charges of conspiracy against the US and lying to the FBI as part of a deal with federal prosecutors.

During the first two days of his testimony, Gates admitted to shielding millions of dollars in over a dozen offshore accounts from United States tax collections - all at Manafort's direction.

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Mr Manafort's trial in Alexandria is the first to arise out the Mueller probe and marks a major public test of that investigation's credibility. But he was consistent in saying he was now telling the truth and that there was a "strong record" to support his key assertions: that Manafort directed him to hide money from the IRS and fake financial documents to get bank loans.

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

Defense lawyer Kevin Downing began his cross-examination of longtime Manafort deputy Rick Gates by pressing him on his own lies to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators, an extramarital affair and hundreds of thousands of dollars he admitted to embezzling from his former boss. However, the Manafort case - as President Donald Trump has been quick to point out - focuses on Manafort's business dealings and has no direct connection to Manafort's work with the Trump campaign.

The judge asked the lawyers to come to the bench to discuss the matter.

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

The charges largely predate the five months Manafort spent on Trump's campaign.

He said Manafort asked for tickets to Trump's inauguration so he could give them to a banker involved in approving a loan at the center of his financial fraud trial. Prosecutors allege that the bank lent Manafort money based on fraudulent documents, and that Calk was named an adviser to the campaign and sought the Army post as part of a quid pro quo.

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

Prosecutors showed contracts laying out that Manafort would be paid $4 million a year in quarterly installments of $1 million, all channeled through Cyprus.

And Gates faced fraud charges from the special counsel after it discovered he had written a letter to a Swiss movie production company falsely claiming that his own production company was investing in a film project by his friend, Steve Brown.

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