Rick Gates Has Told Many Lies. On Tuesday, Manafort's Defense Seized On Them Rick Gates returned to the witness stand Tuesday. Paul Manafort's defense lawyer asked him about his admitted lying, cheating and embezzlement in an effort to damage his credibility as a witness.

Rick Gates Has Told Many Lies. On Tuesday, Manafort's Defense Seized On Them

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The trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is steamrolling ahead today. Rick Gates took the stand for a second straight day to testify against Manafort, his one-time boss and mentor. Both men are tangled up in legal trouble over complicated financial arrangements that prosecutors allege allowed Manafort to commit bank and tax fraud. Gates has already described on the witness stand how he helped Manafort hide income to avoid paying millions in taxes. NPR's national justice correspondent Carrie Johnson has again spent the day listening to testimony in that federal courtroom in Alexandria, Va. And she joins us now. Hey, Carrie.


CHANG: So all right, Rick Gates has been long touted now as the prosecution's star witness against Manafort, and Manafort's lawyers got a chance to cross-examine him today, which everyone has been expecting to be the high drama of the trial. Was it? What happened?

JOHNSON: Yeah. Paul Manafort's defense lawyer ran Rick Gates through a long list of wrongdoing - embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort by padding expense accounts, fraud with a different business partner and living a secret life, what Manafort's lawyer said was an affair with a woman in London 10 years ago while Rick Gates was married. Manafort's defense team hammered on Gates' lie to the Office of Special Counsel, these prosecutors, after he'd already been charged with other crimes. And it took Rick Gates a while on the witness stand to say he lied to the FBI even though he pleaded guilty to that charge. Then Manafort's defense lawyer, Kevin Downing, said you seem to have such a perfect recollection on direct examination by these prosecutors. You're having such a hard time now. Why is that? Kind of an important moment in the cross-examination.

CHANG: And how damaging was this testimony from Gates then for prosecutors?

JOHNSON: Well, the jury took close - took notes, paid close attention to this attack on Rick Gates. Several jurors seemed to have a negative reaction to him. And at one point, when Manafort's lawyer asked Rick Gates whether he saved himself from potentially hundreds of years in prison by pleading guilty, Gates made a joke. The audience in the courtroom laughed, but it was not clear that it was funny to the jury or to prosecutors.

CHANG: Right.

JOHNSON: Now, Rick Gates went on to say he was living behind - beyond his means, and he regrets it, that he made a mistake. Finally, he came out and said, I'm here to tell the truth and take responsibility. Mr. Manafort had the same path. I'm trying to change. Ailsa, really the question is whether the government has presented enough corroborating evidence like emails and accounting papers to back up the gist of what Rick Gates is saying about his former business partner, Paul Manafort.

CHANG: What about this morning when Gates was on direct examination? I mean, did we learn any more about the bank and tax fraud scheme Gates says he and Manafort were both involved in?

JOHNSON: Well, we heard evidence that Paul Manafort did ask for financial documents, that he sent emails, so he wasn't delegating all of that financial business to Rick Gates. We also heard both men were in touch even after Manafort left the Trump campaign in 2016. Remember; Rick Gates stayed on. He took a job with the inaugural committee, and Manafort was emailing Gates to try to get a job for a banker who lent Paul Manafort money and to get that banker some tickets to the inauguration ceremonies themselves. There was some question raised in cross-examination by Manafort's defense lawyer about whether Gates had padded expenses during the inauguration run-up. But that question was never answered. We don't know the answer to that.

CHANG: OK. It sounded like quite a full day. What can we expect tomorrow for this trial?

JOHNSON: Well, yeah, tomorrow, more Rick Gates - another hour or so of cross-examination. Then the government is going to try to rehabilitate their key witness. Then we're likely to hear from an FBI agent, maybe some more lenders. That may close out the government's case this week.

CHANG: All right. That's NPR's national justice correspondent, Carrie Johnson. Thank you, Carrie.

JOHNSON: My pleasure.

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