|[Published: Wednesday August 08 2018]
The sixth day of Paul Manafort's trial was indirectly about Trump
WASHINGTON, 08 August. - (ANA) - As he has repeatedly noted, President Donald Trump is not directly implicated in Paul Manafort’s Virginia trial.
In fact, his name was barely mentioned in the first five days of the tax and bank fraud case brought against his former campaign chairman.
But that changed Tuesday during a full day of testimony by Rick Gates, the prosecution’s star witness and another former member of the campaign. Trump was indirectly referenced in multiple ways throughout the testimony, highlighting the risks to the president of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
At first, Gates merely noted that in March 2016 Manafort hired him to work for “one of the presidential candidates.” But then prosecutor Greg Andres invoked Trump’s name, and Gates’ and Manafort’s work on the campaign became more explicitly tied to the alleged crimes at the heart of the trial.
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. Gates testified that Manafort asked him to float Calk, who was on Trump’s economic advisory council, for Secretary of the Army. “We need to discuss Steve Calk for Sec(retary) of the Army,” Manafort wrote to Gates in an email on November 24, 2016. Manafort also included Calk on a list he emailed to Gates of people he wanted to invite to Trump’s inauguration.
By that time, Gates was working on Trump’s inaugural committee. In a heated moment under cross examination by attorney Kevin Downing, Gates acknowledged that it is “possible” he submitted personal expenses for reimbursement from the committee. 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.
Of course, Trump was not involved in these alleged crimes. But Tuesday’s proceedings were in some ways a reflection on him nonetheless.
This trial is a direct result of the special counsel’s investigation into the Trump’s campaign contacts with Russia. - (ANA) -
AB/ANA/08 August 2018 - - -