Judge backs off comments to prosecutors in ex-Trump aide Manafort's trial

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After a sidebar with the judge, Downing moved onto another topic. And the fact that after loaning Manafort millions of dollars Calk became an economic adviser to Trump casts doubt on Trump's famous pledge to "drain the swamp" and puncture the rampant influence peddling in Washington.

Those who dealt with Manafort's taxes also testified that even though they asked Manafort whether he maintained any bank accounts overseas, he told them no.

Prosecutor Greg Andres objected to the question before Gates could answer.

Gates testified Tuesday that he and Manafort engaged a law firm in Cyprus - and its director, "Doctor K" - to help hide millions of dollars they received for their work in Ukraine. They have tried several times to impugn his credibility before the jury.

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

"In Cyprus, they were documented as loans".

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Gates acknowledged that he did for two months and that he took first-class flights and stayed in "fancy hotels" around Europe, but said the money came from bonuses rather than illicit gains.

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.

Gates' voice remained steady and calm throughout his roughy six hours of testimony Tuesday.

Both Manafort and Gates were indicted a year ago on charges of bank and tax fraud as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe. Prosecutors agreed to drop a wide variety of additional charges against Gates in exchange for his guilty pleas and cooperation against Manafort. Before the final bang - or was it a whimper? - prosecutors had their own opportunity Wednesday morning to revisit with Gates exactly what he had done by way of financial crimes, and the steep, lifelong effect of prison time he could face if he told the jury inaccuracies about Manafort. But Trump has shown interest in the proceedings, tweeting support for Manafort and suggesting he has been treated worse than gangster Al Capone. "We need to discuss Steve Calk for Sec (retary) of the Army", Manafort wrote to Gates in an email on November 24, 2016.

"He always had control over the accounts", Gates said of Manafort, and the income was not reported to his bookkeepers, his accountants or the U.S. tax authorities.

Gates' testimony, which began on Monday in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, ended Wednesday morning soon after Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing had asked Gates if his "secret life" spanned the years 2010 to 2014. Courtroom illustration courtesy of Bill Hennessy.

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Melinda James, a Citizens Bank mortgage loan assistant, testified that Manafort had told the bank that the property would be used as a second residence, but she found it listed as a rental on a real estate website.

But at another point Wednesday, Gates attempted to express remorse from the stand, saying "I've made many mistakes over many years".

He told jurors he embezzled from Mr Manafort by filing false expense reports.

In all, the pair of authoritative money trackers explained just how large Manafort's alleged foreign bank-account scheme was and how much he's accused of siphoning secretly into luxe purchases. "Mr Manafort worked with the local political officials and helped implement policy initiatives based on the campaign promises".

Manafort and Gates were the first two individuals indicted in Mueller's investigation into potential collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

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