The Manafort trial has President Trump very anxious
- Author: Leroy Wright Aug 06, 2018,
Aug 06, 2018, 16:17
On Wednesday, prosecutors revealed in court that the former Trump campaign chairman, who's on trial for bank and tax fraud, spent almost $1 million from 2009 to 2014 on clothing at Alan Couture, a luxury menswear store in NY. She noted that Paul Manafort never once mentioned - in speech or in writing - any of his foreign accounts or foreign entities.
Manafort faces charges of bank fraud and tax evasion that could put him in prison for the rest of his life.
The charges against Manafort largely predate the five months he worked for Trump, some of them as campaign chairman, during a pivotal period in the race for the White House.
Manafort's defense team has already signaled that it will paint Gates as an embezzler and liar who took advantage of Manafort and flouted the law without his boss's knowledge.
After spending the first two days of the trial laying out Mr Manafort's lavish spending, the prosecution is now digging into how he accounted for the more than $81 million he made in Ukraine and his efforts to allegedly mislead banks to get loans once the income from Ukraine dropped off precipitously in 2014.
But he otherwise approved "every penny" of the personal bills bookkeeper Heather Washkuhn paid for him, she said.
In addition to Manafort's alleged criminal use of unreported foreign bank accounts, prosecutors say she will also be able to speak to his alleged criminal bank fraud charges.
On cross-examination by defense attorney Thomas Zehnle, Washkuhn conceded that she did recognize some names associated with Manafort's foreign accounts.
"Rick Gates is a double-edged sword", said Mintz.
"Manafort's practice of paying his vendors directly with his offshore funds was created to hide the underlying income from his bookkeepers and return preparers, and ultimately the IRS", prosecutors wrote in a motion on Wednesday night, as they argued why talking about Manafort's spending was valid. Cindy Laporta, who testified under an immunity deal with the government, acknowledged that she agreed under pressure from Gates to alter a tax document for one of Manafort's businesses.
She said "no" to every one.
President Donald Trump appealed to Attorney-General Jeff Sessions to end an investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 election, drawing a rebuke from his fellow Republicans in Congress who said the probe must go on.
Laporta detailed multiple examples in which Manafort and Gates sought to doctor financial records, first in order to lower Manafort's taxable income and then later to inflate his income so that he could get bank loans.
Specifically, Laporta testified that Gates said Manafort's tax bill was "too high" and that Manafort "didn't have the money" to pay it.
"The government must prove that Manafort was complicit in whatever Gates said or did", Axelrod said.
That testimony is important as prosecutors try to rebut defense arguments that Manafort can't be responsible for financial fraud because he left the details of his spending to others.
"I very much regret it", Laporta responded.
In another instance, Laporta testified that Manafort attempted to have her add an additional $2.4 million in income to his financial statement in 2016 to secure another bank loan. Still, it will offer Manafort's defense team a chance to hammer away at Gates' credibility and plant doubt in the minds of jurors.
"You can't pick and choose what's a loan and what's income", she said.
Prosecutors on Thursday said that they do intend to call Gates as a witness after having suggested a day earlier that they had not made a final decision. "Let's move on, enough is enough", Ellis said during the trial.
If the trial continues quickly, it could wrap up before a second, more consequential, trial against Manafort begins.
When they appeared, the bookkeeper and accountants said, they thought the companies were clients or, in some cases, lenders. He is expected to testify at the trial, which could last weeks. "It's a lot, and Paul Manafort trusted that Rick Gates was keeping track of it".