Napolitano: Judge in Manafort Trial Showing an 'Extraordinary Bias' Against the Government


Bank records were put on display during the eighth day of the trial.

His actions came under scrutiny as part of the broader investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election run by Mueller.

Prosecutors called their second government witness of the trial to the stand Wednesday to outline the investigative methods that led to the tax evasion charges against Manafort.

Paul Manafort collected more than $65 million in foreign accounts for his Ukrainian political work from 2010-2014 and spent more than $15 million in the same period on real estate, landscaping, home improvement and luxury items like his ostrich and python jackets, an Federal Bureau of Investigation witness told jurors on Wednesday.

During his three days of testimony, Gates laid out in detail how payments to Manafort's company from political work in Ukraine were made to bank accounts in Cyprus and the money was never reported to accountants or the Internal Revenue Service. Welch said the monetary figure was based on an accounting method used by Manafort. But on Thursday, Ellis told jurors he went overboard when he erupted at prosecutors for allowing an expert witness to remain in the courtroom during the trial.

Andres also revisited the embezzlement Gates committed against Manafort.

"It actually kind of shows in real time the course of months of investigation where they painstakingly did a jigsaw puzzle of records", former USA prosecutor Harry Litman said of Magionos' testimony.

In its cross-examination of Magionos, the defense presented pieces of evidence with Manafort's signature on them, calling into question whether Manafort had actually written his signature on the foreign accounts. That distinction matters because banks regard loans for investment properties as riskier and impose restrictions, including on how much money they're willing to lend.

Gates, a former business partner of Manafort, testified that he began working with Manafort directly in October 2006, and the pair conspired between 2008 and 2015.

Ellis questioned whether prosecutor Greg Andres could shorten his case and skip some of the evidence.

While the defense's strategy seems focused destroying Gates' trustworthiness in the eyes of the jury, prosecutors have sought to broaden their case so it's not completely reliant on him.

Asked why she engaged in misconduct, Laporta said she had few good choices.

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"I acknowledge I had a period of time when I had another relationship", said Gates, who is married and has four children.

"No you weren't", Judge Ellis said.

After Mr Gates described his theft as "unauthorised transactions" instead of embezzlement, Mr Downing prodded him to use the latter term - and Mr Gates ultimately relented, saying: "It was embezzlement from Mr Manafort".

Gates replied that "I made many mistakes over many years" before stepping down from the witness stand. "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.

"I see no way that Judge Ellis' responses will not have an impact", said Joshua Dressler, an Ohio State University law professor. "In new court filing prosecutors are fighting back after days of Judge Ellis growing increasingly angry at them".

Following Gates' testimony, prosecutors resumed trying to make their case for financial fraud by Manafort through documentary evidence to demonstrate his control of offshore bank accounts containing millions of dollars not reported to the IRS as required by US law.

The aggressive questioning was aimed at shifting blame from Mr Manafort onto Mr Gates, who pleaded guilty in Mr Mueller's investigation and agreed to co-operate with investigators by testifying in the financial fraud trial.

But Kevin Downing, an attorney representing Manafort, got in one final swipe at Gates before his testimony came to an end.

But Gates did not answer Downing's question after the prosecution objected to the relevance of the inquiry.

The bank employees, in emails with Manafort and others, raised concerns they had about Manafort's available cash in his business, the possibility that another property in NY already backed a loan and that the Soho condo was being rented on Airbnb, James testified.

On Tuesday, Downing asked how the jury could believe Gates "after all the lies you told and fraud you committed". Mr Downing asked Gates.

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