MANAFORT TRIAL UPDATE | Manafort trial at break over campaign question


ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Paul Manafort's trial came to an abrupt standstill this afternoon after defense lawyers sought to question star witness Rick Gates about his time on President Donald Trump's campaign.

Gates was undergoing an aggressive cross-examination from Manafort's lawyer, Kevin Downing, when Downing asked Gates whether special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators had interviewed Gates about the campaign.

That prompted an objection from prosecutors and a sidebar conference. After several minutes of discussion away from the jury and the public, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III called for a 30-minute break.

In general, references to Trump at the two-week trial have been few and far between. Both sides agreed ahead of time to limit discussion of the campaign so as not to prejudice the jury.

2:35 p.m.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Prosecutors want the judge in Paul Manafort's fraud trial to let them show evidence his businesses failed to file federal foreign bank account reports detailing hidden assets abroad.

Attorneys for special counsel Robert Mueller's office say in a court filing that Manafort's defense lawyers opened the door to such evidence by repeatedly referring to complex rules governing the required reporting of foreign bank account reports, known as FBARs.

Prosecutors want to show that the former Trump campaign chairman didn't file any FBARs detailing accounts owned by his businesses, Davis Manafort Partners and DMP International.

The filing comes after a special agent with the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network testified Monday that neither Manafort nor his wife personally submitted the paperwork as required by law.

12:44 p.m.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Paul Manafort's longtime deputy told jurors today how he spent years disguising millions of dollars in foreign income as loans to lower the former Trump campaign chairman's tax bill.

Rick Gates, the government's star witness, recounted how he and Manafort used offshore shell companies and bank accounts in Cyprus to funnel the money, all while concealing the accounts and the income from the IRS.

"In Cyprus, they were documented as loans. In reality, it was basically money moving between accounts," Gates said during his second day of testimony in the financial fraud trial of his former boss.

Prosecutors summoned Gates, described by witnesses as Manafort's "right-hand man," 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.

Manafort's defense attorneys have sought to paint Gates as an embezzler, liar and the instigator of any criminal conduct. They have several times tried to impugn his credibility before the jury.

Gates walked into a packed courtroom a day after he calmly acknowledged having embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort and said the two had committed crimes together by stashing money in foreign bank accounts and falsifying bank loan documents.

Manafort and Gates were the first two people indicted in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. But Gates pleaded guilty months later and agreed to cooperate in Mueller's investigation of Manafort, the only American charged by the special counsel to opt for trial instead of a guilty plea.

Gates, who said he has met with the government 20 times ahead of his testimony, is expected to remain on the stand for several hours today and then face a bruising cross-examination as defense lawyers try to undercut his credibility and pin the blame on him.

10:05 a.m.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A day after testifying against longtime boss Paul Manafort, Rick Gates returned to the witness stand today as the government's star witness in the financial fraud trial of President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman.

Gates walked into a packed courtroom a day after he calmly acknowledged having embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort and said the two had committed crimes together by stashing money in foreign bank accounts and falsifying bank loan documents.

In early testimony today, Gates related his role in setting up offshore bank accounts for Manafort, a complex arrangement that was requested by wealthy and powerful Ukrainian businessmen who bankrolled Manafort's political consulting work in the country.

Prosecutors summoned Gates, described by witnesses as Manafort's "right-hand man," to give jurors the direct account of a co-conspirator they say carried out an elaborate offshore tax-evasion and fraud scheme on behalf of his boss.

Manafort and Gates were the first two people indicted in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. But Gates pleaded guilty months later and agreed to cooperate in Mueller's investigation of Manafort, the only American charged by the special counsel to opt for trial instead of a guilty plea.

Gates is expected to testify for several hours and then face a bruising cross-examination as defense lawyers try to undercut his credibility and pin the blame on him.

His testimony drew scores of people, who waited in line for hours outside the courthouse and then packed both the courtroom and an overflow room that contained a video feed of the proceedings.

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