Federal Bureau of Investigation says ex-Trump campaign chairman hid over 30 offshore accounts

Paul Manafort's associate says 'hundreds' of emails prove former Trump campaign chief directed fraud

A rare mea culpa came from U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis for rebuking the prosecution earlier in former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's fraud trial.

Manafort, the high-powered political consultant, is facing 18 counts of tax evasion and bank fraud and a maximum 305-year prison sentence if the Eastern Virginia jury finds him guilty.

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

"I was critical of counsel for ... allowing an expert to remain in the courtroom", Ellis told the jury prior to Thursday's testimony.

"That's really beyond the pale for the judge", Litman said of the exchange, which took place during cross-examination, in front of the jury.

Prosecutor Greg Andres asked Gates Thursday whether Mueller's team had told him how to answer questions.

The prosecution's case against Manafort doesn't rest exclusively on Gates.

"I think he has to keep hammering at the point that Gates is not a credible witness and he can't be believed", he said.

Defence lawyers saw an opening to undermine his testimony by painting him as a liar and a philanderer, getting him to acknowledge an extramarital affair and reminding jurors how he had lied to Mueller's team while working out a plea deal for himself.

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".

Paul Manafort hid more than 30 offshore accounts in three types of currencies from the IRS, according to an Federal Bureau of Investigation forensic accountant testifying in the former Trump campaign chairman's trial.

Gates was hired by Manafort to serve as deputy campaign chairman and later had a role on Mr Trump's inaugural committee.

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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.

CNN reported Thursday that the filing referred to a conversation between trial attorneys and the judge after Manafort attorney Kevin Downing asked Gates, "Were you interviewed on several occasions about your time at the Trump campaign?"

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.

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.

"The Ukrainians", Gates said, adding a layer to his statement Tuesday that he had stolen "Mr. Manafort's money".

She said Manafort's passport was used to open many of them in USA dollars, euros and British pounds. "Pls (sic) make the five transfers listed below from the Leviathan account and confirm to me when completed", Manafort wrote.

At the time he worked for Trump, jurors heard, Manafort's business in Ukraine had always been dried up, and his firm didn't have any clients.

Gates testified that he engaged in an extensive criminal conspiracy with Manafort that lasted seven years and included lying to the Internal Revenue Service to avoid paying taxes and providing false documents to banks to obtains millions of dollars in loans.

Gates, who is married and has four children, acknowledged having had a "relationship" a decade ago and admitted to stealing from his boss during a "difficult time" in his life by inflating personal expenses.

Prosecutors said they plan to conclude their case on Friday.

After Gates testified that Manafort was "pretty good about knowing" where his money was, Ellis couldn't suppress a quip that appeared to call into question Gates' testimony. Gates also provided the first witness testimony that overlaps with Trump's presidential campaign.

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