Special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigators resemble axe-wielding firefighters frantically stomping through a house and not finding so much as a lit birthday candle. Meanwhile, the home next door burns to the basement.
Team Mueller’s never-ending hunt for reds in October 2016 has found zero evidence of Russian collusion among Manafort, so prosecutors are going with an IRS tax scheme.
Rick Gates, the star witness in Paul Manafort’s trial, admitted that he stole money from his former boss to pay for an extramarital affair, lied to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and may have submitted false expenses to President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee.
But even under two hours of withering cross-examination, Gates is now insisting that he’s telling the truth now about how he helped Manafort hide millions of dollars from U.S. tax authorities and lie to banks to obtain loans.
Gates, who pleaded guilty and is cooperating with Mueller’s prosecutors, has testified over two days, detailing his criminal conduct in helping to hide the money he made as a political consultant in Ukraine. He said he lied to Manafort’s accountants and bookkeepers, used offshore accounts in Cyprus to move millions of dollars for him, and fabricated several documents to deceive banks.
Manafort’s lawyer Kevin Downing called out Gates, browbeat and embarrassed him, and branded him repeatedly as a liar unworthy of the jury’s trust and respect. Gates wobbled in the first hour and appeared uncertain.
“I’m here to tell the truth,’’ Gates said. “I’m taking responsibility for my actions. Mr. Manafort had the same path. I’m here. I’ve accepted the responsibility, and I’m trying to change.’’
Downing began undermining Gates’s credibility due to his long history of lies and deception.
Downing painted the picture showing that Gates stole $3 million through 40 wire transfers from Manafort’s accounts in Cyprus. Gates admitted to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Gates Claimed Manafort authorized some of the transactions, although he couldn’t identify which ones. The question of just how much Gates stole from the brilliant political strategist who initially hired him as an intern out of college was left unresolved.
Downing asked whether money was stolen from Manafort to pay for “the secret life of Rick Gates.” Manafort’s former deputy responded: “There was a time 10 years ago when I had a relationship.” The married father of four said the relationship lasted two months and involved an apartment in London.
Gates denied Downing’s suggestion that he used money stolen from Manafort’s Cypriot accounts to pay for a trip to Las Vegas, audio equipment and groceries from a Whole Foods in Virginia. But Gates conceded that he took business trips to Las Vegas with an accused fraudster, Steven Brown, using money from Manafort’s accounts in the U.S. Downing asked if Gates had submitted personal expenses to the Trump inaugural committee. “I don’t recall,’’ Gates replied. “It’s possible.’’
Downing chided Gates for refusing to use the word “embezzlement’’ to describe the money he took from Manafort. Gates finally conceded: “It was embezzlement from Mr. Manafort.”
Pressed by Downing and U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, Gates admitted that many of the expenses weren’t approved by Manafort. “I submitted expense reports over several years that were not authorized,” Gates said.
Such reluctant concessions contrasted sharply with his crisp air of authority in answering friendlier questions from prosecutor Greg Andres.
Unless Gates has documents to back up his claims then it sounds like he is just trying to save his own skin. When someone embezzles money they don’t make a very trustworthy witness. Again, we need documents to prove this man is telling the truth and not just telling the court what Mueller wants him too.
This all Mueller has got after all these months as special Prosecutor, pretty pathetic no? Mueller knows his case is in serious trouble. No wonder they didn’t bring this case to court 10 years ago when it happened, only to save face for not finding anything in the “Russia/collusion” investigation..
Muller’s “credible witness” stole the mans money lied cheated but believe him now. Muller is hanging his hat resting the bulk of his case against Manafort on a very despicable confessed criminal.
This is the dumbest R?u?s?s?i?a?n? ?c?o?l?l?u?s?i?o?n? ? tax case ever. Declare a mistrial, have the IRS tell Manafort’s tax attorneys what they think he owes, settle, and be done with it.
This whole “investigation” has been a complete and total waste of taxpayer money from the get-go.
As Alan Dershowitz would say..”now he’s probably , not just “singing” he’s “composing”. Terrible unreliable witness.