Mueller request signals Gates may still be cooperating

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The testimony of Rick Gates, Paul Manafort's longtime deputy and the star witness in the government's bank-fraud and tax-evasion case against the former Trump campaign manager, came to a dramatic end Wednesday with defense attorneys accusing him of lying about the number of extramarital affairs he's had.

Airbnb executive Darin Evenson also told jurors that one of Manafort's New York City properties was offered as a rental through much of 2015 and 2016 - a direct contradiction of the documents the longtime political consultant submitted to obtain a $3.4 million loan.

But on Wednesday, Downing suggested that Gates had withheld the extent of his philandering from prosecutors working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Prosecutors objected and Gates never answered the question.

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".

For the previous two days in court, Gates has testified that he and Manafort committed bank and tax fraud together.

The veteran Republican operative is not on trial for anything he did while serving for three months in 2016 as chairman of Trump's presidential campaign.

Ellis has said he did not like having witnesses listen to the proceedings before they take the stand but the prosecution had previously requested case agents and experts be allowed.

Paul Manafort's attorney Kevin Downing on Wednesday asked whether longtime Manafort deputy Rick Gates had four extramarital affairs - and not just one overseas 10 years ago - implying that Gates might have lied to special counsel Robert Mueller's team and could put his plea deal in jeopardy.

"I've made many mistakes over many years, and I regret them", Gates said.

"After all these lies, and the fraud you have committed, you expect this jury to believe you?"

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He has already admitted embezzling some funds from Manafort.

Gates testified that Manafort asked him to float Calk, who was on Trump's economic advisory council, for Secretary of the Army.

After Yanukovych lost power in 2014, "I would say it decreased the income stream", Gates, wearing a blue suit, told the court matter-of-factly.

"The Ukrainians", Gates said, adding a layer to his statement Tuesday that he had stolen "Mr. Manafort's money". It's a practice he has admitted to doing to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort, and under pressure from Downing, he agreed that it could be called embezzlement. Gates said the money he took was sent to his account in the United Kingdom and was never disclosed to his accountants or the USA government.

As well as being a senior aide on Trump's election campaign, Gates served as the deputy chairman of the United States president's inaugural committee. That, Downing said, would invalidate his plea deal.

According to Gates, Manafort, who had by then left the campaign, asked Gates in various ways to use his position on Trump's team to do favors for Stephen Calk, a banker who had loaned Manafort millions of dollars - loans that Mueller's team alleges were consummated under false pretenses.

Mr Gates told jurors that he had been "tasked" by his boss "to determine how we could lower the taxes".

Manafort is facing another trial in Washington, D.C., later this year on other charges brought against him by Mueller, including obstructing justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice and illegal foreign lobbying.

Gates, who pleaded guilty in February to charges of conspiracy and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, admitted to committing crimes with former business associate Manafort earlier this week.

Manafort attorney Richard Westling also attempted to sow doubt in Magionos's testimony regarding the authenticity of the Manafort signature on various documents that were presented.

Manafort, who helped Republicans Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan reach the White House, was Mr Trump's campaign chairman from May to August 2016.

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