Paul Manafort trial day 8: Prosecutors expect to wrap up case soon

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

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

In a filing Thursday, Mueller's team said it wanted to keep secret a discussion between trial attorneys and Judge T.S. Ellis regarding a question to Gates secret because the transcript of the conversation would "reveal details of the ongoing investigation".

Ellis had chastised the prosecution for allowing IRS agent Michael Welch to be present during court proceedings before taking his turn to testify.

"Don't do that again", he bellowed at Mr. Asoyne.

The 46-year-old, who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and is cooperating with the government, began the day by describing how he helped Manafort evade U.S. taxes on millions of dollars earned from political consulting work they did in Ukraine.

Manafort and Gates hid the fact that one property had a mortgage against it and falsely claimed that another property was a second residence for Manafort and his daughter, James said.

Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, is accused of bank fraud and tax evasion. Downing then stepped back in with a bombshell, suggesting Gates's "secret life" included multiple extramarital affairs.

Prosecutors sandwiched the testimony of Gates around other witnesses who, in sometimes dry and detailed testimony, described Manafort's lavish spending and use of offshore accounts to stash Ukrainian political consulting fees.

On Tuesday, the court was shown a series of emails, contracts and what prosecutor Greg Andres referred to as "fake invoices", in which Gates altered the template to show the name of a shell company instead of Manafort's.

Rick Gates, who worked on Trump's campaign throughout 2016 and then as executive director of Trump's inaugural committee, is the star witness against Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman whose first of two trials focuses on charges the political operative is a tax cheat and financial fraudster. Manafort's defence team's has tried to pin much of the blame for financial crimes on Gates and raise doubts about his ethics and morals.

The judge in Paul Manafort's financial fraud trial is joking about his efforts to speed up the prosecution's presentation of its case. He poked fun at himself Wednesday as he haggled with the attorneys for 20 minutes over the number and type of charts prosecutors could present during the testimony of the Federal Bureau of Investigation forensic accountant.

In one exchange published in court Wednesday, Manafort instructs his Cypriot lawyer, Kypros Chrysostomides - referred to in court as "Dr. K" because, according to Gates, his name is hard to spell and pronounce - to transfer money from the Manafort-controlled Leviathan Ltd.

Gates also admitted, however, that the same tricks he used to help doctor and falsify records for Manafort he also deployed for his own personal gain in order to covertly wire funds out of Manafort's offshore accounts to line his own pockets. "I made a mistake".

Manafort's lawyers have not yet indicated whether they plan to call witnesses as part of his defense.

The trial in federal court, which finished its seventh day on Wednesday, is the first stemming from Mueller's probe into Russian involvement in the 2016 USA presidential election.

More recently, after the launch of the Mueller investigation but before his plea bargain, Gates lied to the FBI about a meeting between Manafort and an unnamed US Congressman regarding a "specific issue".

"This robe doesn't make me any more than a human", he said, concluding, "Any criticism of counsel should be put aside - it doesn't have anything to do with this case".

Gates pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy and making false statements in exchange for his testimony against Manafort and cooperation with the Special Counsel's office.

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