Manafort Trial Defense Chips Away at Credibility of Star Witness Gates

Manafort Trial Defense Chips Away at Credibility of Star Witness Gates

The judge's comments and detailed testimony about Manafort's loans came during the eighth day of his trial as prosecutors began presenting the bulk of their bank fraud case against him after spending days largely on tax-evasion allegations.

CBS News correspondent Paula Reid has more from outside the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia.

It's unclear whether Ellis was only apologizing for the mixup with the IRS agent.

Asked if he had been coached, Gates replied, "The only answer I was told was to tell the truth". "I thought he was needlessly evasive and argumentative", said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. Attorney in MI who has been watching the trial and said she observed jurors reacting with negative body language as he testified.

Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano is not pleased with how the judge in the Paul Manafort trial has conducted himself.

Gates said he did not.

Michael Zeldin, a former federal prosecutor, said that in Downing's remaining hour of cross-examination on Wednesday, he needs to keep painting Gates as an unreliable person who can not be trusted.

Although the allegations of collusion between Donald Trump and Russian Federation are not at issue in this trial, any significant blows to the government's case are likely be seized on by the president's defenders, including conservative media, to support his contention that Mueller's investigation is a "rigged witch-hunt". He also admitted to embezzling "several hundred thousand" dollars from Manafort including funds used to finance a London apartment to engage in an extra-marital affair.

After saying Monday that he committed crimes with Manafort, including concealing offshore accounts to avoid reporting them to the US government at tax time and claiming false income to get loans, Manafort defense attorney Kevin Downing asked the witness, "This jury is just supposed to believe you after all the lies that you've told and the fraud you've committed?" Downing asked Gates if he recalled telling the special counsel's office that he'd had four different extramarital affairs.

The trial is the first stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller's 14-month investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

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

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said that judges should be patient but "they made a mistake" when the Senate confirmed him to the bench.

"This robe doesn't make me any more than a human", he said, concluding, "Any criticism of counsel should be put aside - it doesn't have anything to do with this case".

Gates testified this week that he and Manafort committed crimes together.

Prosecutor Uzo Asonye asked if Manafort would have qualified for the loan if he had known DMP's profit for that year was in fact $400,000.

The FBI forensic accountant, Morgan Magionos, told jurors that bank records from Cyprus, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the United Kingdom revealed the accounts were connected to Manafort and his associates. Raico and Brennan were among 35 people on the prosecution's initial witness list and are two of the five witnesses who secured immunity.

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.

Before jurors are sent off to deliberate at the end of a case, the judge typically tells them not to read anything into either the judge's words or body language, attorney and law professor Seth Abramson said in an email.

But on Thursday, Ellis admitted he was wrong - at least on one point - when he criticized prosecutors for having one of their witnesses, an expert IRS agent, in the room to hear other witness testimony.

Manafort was chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, and his longtime deputy was part of the campaign, too.

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