Defence attorneys for Donald Trump's former campaign chief Paul Manafort, on trial for tax and bank fraud, sought to shred the credibility of the prosecution's key witness on Tuesday, forcing him to reveal that he had an extramarital affair and stole money from his boss.
Downing then noted how on Tuesday he had referred to the witness's "secret life", in particular an extra-marital affair he conducted in London, that involved lavish spending on flights and hotels.
Day 7 of the Paul Manafort trial begins in Alexandria, Virginia on Wednesday with the continuation of a blistering cross examination of Manafort's former business associate Rick Gates.
Gates testified that he engaged in an extensive criminal conspiracy with Manafort that lasted seven years and included lying to the Internal Revenue Service to avoid paying taxes and providing false documents to banks to obtains millions of dollars in loans.
Gates testified Tuesday that Manafort hit the roof when faced with an enormous tax bill.
However, when Andres returned to the podium for another chance to question Gates, Gates said that Manafort did reach out to a Ukrainian businessman before his Federal Bureau of Investigation interview to get more information about the entity that the businessman used to pay him and to make sure that it was "clean", meaning it was only used to pay Manafort. That admission came during a line of questioning from the defense about the $2.7 million to $3 million Gates admitted he embezzled from Manafort. However, Gates also said the agents did not ask about tax returns and "the majority of the Cypriot accounts were closed" at the stage.
As for Gates, he has already pleaded guilty, doing so in a February deal with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian election tampering and the Trump campaign's possible ties to such behavior.
"I'm here to tell the truth", Gates shot back.
Gates proved essential to prosecutors' attempt to tie Manafort to the dozens of foreign bank accounts in Cyprus, the United Kingdom, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines where he allegedly hid millions of dollars of taxable income from the IRS for almost a decade.
Manafort, a former Trump campaign chairman, has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank and tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.
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"In Cyprus, they were documented as loans". "Mr. Manafort had the same path".
In testimony Tuesday, Gates laid responsibility squarely at Manafort's feet for a series of crimes, saying the two had committed crimes together by stashing money in foreign bank accounts and falsifying bank loan documents.
As well as being a senior aide on Trump's election campaign, Gates served as the deputy chairman of the United States president's inaugural committee.
More recently, after the launch of the Mueller investigation but before his plea bargain, Gates lied to the FBI about a meeting between Manafort and an unnamed US Congressman regarding a "specific issue". Both sides agreed ahead of time to limit discussion of the campaign so as not to prejudice the jury, though they had agreed to allow testimony about the overlap of a bank loan with Manafort's role in the 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.
Prosecutor Greg Andres had objected to the defense using the affair against Gates, saying the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled "that if somebody cheats on their wife or whatever, it's not necessarily indicative of truthfulness". These accounts, Gates added, predated his tenure at Manafort's DMP International.
Prosecutors showed contracts laying out that Manafort would be paid $4 million a year in quarterly installments of $1 million, all channeled through Cyprus.
Cindy Laporta, a tax accountant for Manafort, testified Monday under immunity that she helped file falsified bank loan applications for him even though she knew they were inaccurate.
Manafort to Gates in 2011, telling him to "proceed" with secret foreign wire transfers.