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Manafort’s Lawyers Tried to Discredit Star Witness Rick Gates During Fraud Trial

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates with Trump.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Defense lawyers for Paul Manafort grilled the special counsel prosecutors’ star witness, Rick Gates, trying to discredit him as he testified against President Trump’s former campaign chairman.

Attorney Kevin Downing tried to make Gates look like an unreliable witness who agreed to testify for less time behind bars for crimes he admits he committed.

“You knowingly and intentionally lied?” Downing asked. 

Gates answered, “Uh, yes. I provided false information tot he special counsel office prior to my plea agreement.”

Downing said Gates led a “secret life” that included an apartment in London to hide an extramarital affair.

Gates, who served as a campaign aide to President Trump, also acknowledged “it’s possible” that he submitted person expenses to the president’s inaugural committee for reimbursement. In fact, Gates worked on the president’s inauguration after Manafort quit his job as the campaign chairman.

If convicted of bank and tax fraud, Manafort could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Gates is expected to continue testifying Wednesday.

Michael Cohen Under Investigation for Potential Tax- And Bank-Fraud

Longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Federal prosecutors aren’t just investigating Michael Cohen over his working and personal relationship with President Trump.

Trump’s former lawyer also is facing scrutiny over potential tax fraud from his taxi-medallion business, the Wall Street Journal reports

Prosecutors in New York are trying to determine whether the company underreported federal tax returns over the past five years and whether Cohen obtained loans by inflating the values of his assets.

Bank employees also are under investigation for possibly allowing Cohen to obtain the loans for he which didn’t qualify or didn’t have the proper paperwork.

If charged with tax- and bank-fraud, Cohen could face a signifiant time behind bars, which has the potential to scare the lawyer into cooperating with prosecutors.

The charges would be similar to those filed against Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who’s on trial now.

Gates Testifies He Helped Manafort Violate Bank, Tax Fraud

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates with Trump.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Paul Gates, a former campaign aide to President Trump, testified Monday that he helped his former business partner, Paul Manafort, commit bank and tax fraud.

At Manafort’s tax and bank fraud trial, Gates said he helped Manafort file false tax returns to conceal millions of dollars kept in foreign bank accounts.

Gates was testifying as part of a plea deal with special prosecutors, providing strong evidence against Manafort, the former chairman of Trump’s campaign.

If convicted, Manafort could spend the rest of his life behind bars on 18 counts of tax fraud and banking crimes.

Gates also testified that he embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort.

During his testimony, Gates told prosecutors he helped Manafort violate the law by falsifying and doctoring documents and concealing tens of millions of dollars in foreign banks to avoid pay taxes on the income.

Today, Gates is expected to face tough questions from defense attorneys who have been trying to chip away at his credibility.

Significant Cuts to TSA Would Reduce Security at Time of Heightened Concerns about Terrorism

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s administration says it wants to make Americans safer from terrorism, but the TSA is cutting about $300 million from its budget in 2020, according to internal documents obtained by CNN.

To save the money, the TSA would eliminate screenings at more than 150 small- to medium-sized airports, reduce the number of full-time air marshals, cut the workforce at TSA headquarters and eliminate 50% in reimbursements to state and local law enforcement agencies for use of their K-9 units.

The TSA did not comment for the story.

Congress would still need to approve the cuts, and some congressional members have already spoken out about the reductions.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, of New Jersey and the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said the proposed reductions “could put at risk the safety of passengers and the security of our transportation systems.” 

“The intelligence is very clear that the threat to our transportation systems remains real, so I am baffled by this administration’s endless efforts to cut funding in this area,” Watson Coleman said in a statement.

Manafort’s Longtime Business Partner, Gates, Expected to Testify Against Manafort at Trial This Week

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates with Trump.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Paul Manafort’s former longtime business partner, Rick Gates, is expected to testify against his old buddy this week in a criminal trial that could land the former Trump campaign chairman in prison for the rest of his life.

Rick Gates, who also served as an aide in Trump’s campaign, struck a plea deal with special counsel prosecutors to testify against Manafort, who is charged with 18 counts of tax fraud and banking crimes.

Gates is a vital witness for federal prosecutors’ case that alleges Manafort hid millions of dollars in secret, off-short bank accounts from profits he made working with a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party. When he stopped working as a consultant for Ukrainian officials, Manafort lied to banks about his income to obtain loans to finance his “extravagant lifestyle,” prosecutors allege.

The trial resumes today and will be the second week of testimony for special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Gates told prosecutors he has firsthand knowledge of the crimes.

The defense plans to paint Gates as en embezzler willing to bend the truth because of the leniency he received in the plea bargain.

Trump Lawyer: If Mueller Subpoenas President for Interview, Case Likely to Go to Supreme Court

Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow on ABC on Sunday.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s legal team is now leaning toward declining an interview with the special counsel prosecutors investigation whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.

And if Robert Mueller subpoenas the president to testify, it likely will trigger a legal battle that would wend its way to the Supreme Court, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow old ABC on Sunday.

“His legal team is concerned,” Sekulow said. “The inclination is not at this point” to do an interview.

U.S. Supreme Court

Sekulow said discussions are ongoing about a meeting with Mueller’s team, and Trump could disregard his attorneys’ advice and sit down with federal prosecutors.

Trump’s legal team last year acknowledged it was concerned Trump would commit perjury if facing tough questions from Mueller, a former FBI director and expert in legal interviews.

The question about whether is required by law to answer questions from federal prosecutors has never been tested in courts, hence the reason the case likely would wind up at the Supreme Court.

Trump Changes Story, Admits His Son Met with Russian Operative at Trump Tower

Trump Tower

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump last summer cried “fake news” and “witch hunt” when the media first reported that his campaign team, including his son Donald Trump Jr., met with a Russian attorney at Trump Tower to get dirt on Hillary Clinton in June 2016.

When the New York Times broke the story in July 2017, the Trump administration released a statement suggesting the gathering was about an obscure Russian adoption policy, not a meeting to get information obtain damaging information on his Democratic opponent.

In a series of tweets Sunday, the president acknowledged the meeting “was to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere.”

“Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower,” Trump tweeted.

It has been widely reported that special counsel Robert Mueller was investigating whether the meeting constituted collusion with Russia. 

The question becomes: Was it illegal to meet with a foreign political operative to get dirt on a political opponent?

NPR reports that campaign finance laws prohibits foreign nationals from “directly or indirectly, make a contribution or a donation of money or other thing of value.” 

“Hard to see how there is not a serious case here of solicitation. Trump Jr. appears to have knowledge of the foreign source and is asking to see it,” Rick Hasen, a campaign finance law expert wrote on his blog last year. “Such information can be considered a ‘thing of value’ for purposes of the campaign finance law.”

NPR’s Brian Naylor reported that if Trump was aware of the meeting in advance, “or cast doubt on denials by Trump and Trump Jr., it would be a dramatic addition to Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference in the 2016 presidential race and possible collusion by the Trump campaign.”

Prosecutors: How Manafort Evaded Taxes, Falsified Records to Finance ‘Extravagant Lifestyle’

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel prosecutors on Friday shifted from Paul Manafort’s “extravagant lifestyle” to how he allegedly evaded taxes and falsified his bookkeeping to obtain loans used to finance his expensive tastes for clothes and real estate.

Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign chairman during the election, is accused of hiding millions of dollars in secret, off-short bank accounts from profits he made working with a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party, the Washington Post reports

Manafort is charged with 18 counts of tax fraud, banking crimes and conspiracy.

Friday was the fourth day of the criminal trial in Alexandria, Va.

In testimony early Friday, prosecutors sought to show how Manafort lied about the existence of off-shore accounts.

Tax preparer Philip Ayliff testified that Manafort claimed numerous times that he had no foreign bank accounts.

In an email from Ayliff to Manafort, the tax preparer asked Manafort if he had any interested in a foreign bank account, and Manafort responded that he didn’t.

“They never told us about any income that was deposited in foreign accounts,” he said.

If convicted, the 69-year-old Manafort could spend the rest of his life in prison.