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Renato Mariotti @renato_mariotti
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THREAD: What did we learn from Day Four of the Manafort trial?
1/ Today prosecutors presented the most important and damning evidence to date of Manafort’s guilt, including the testimony of an accountant (Cindy Laporta) who admitted to committing crimes in order to help her client (Manafort) make money. “I very much regret it,” she said.
2/ LaPorta said that she falsified a loan amount at Gates’ request to help Manafort. That’s tax fraud by an accountant. On Monday, you can expect the defense to ask her tough questions about the immunity she received. (They’ll call it a “get out of jail free card.”)
3/ They’ll also try to suggest that the tax fraud was Gates’ idea and Manafort wasn’t aware of it. Unfortunately for Manafort, she also admitted to committing other crimes on his behalf. For example, she admitted sending a bank a letter she knew was doctored. That’s bank fraud.
4/ The defense is going to attack the prosecution for giving Gates and Laporta deals while prosecuting Manafort. My guess is that Laporta will come off as a sympathetic figure who went along with a crime to help Manafort. That said, she is very lucky she wasn’t charged.
5/ The immunity she received is an amazing deal. The defense will argue that it gave her an incentive to lie. (They will do the same when Gates testifies, even though he pleaded guilty to felonies, because he got a deal that will reduce his sentence.)
6/ Another tax preparer testified Manafort told them that he had no foreign bank accounts. Prosecutors entered emails from Manafort into evidence saying as much, which is in my view the most damning evidence the prosecution has. Failing to disclose foreign accounts is a crime.
7/ It is very hard for me to see how Manafort can beat the charges for failing to disclose foreign accounts. Those are the type of crimes that prosecutors love to charge because they’re so straightforward.
8/ The tax preparer also testified that Gates told them Manafort had no foreign accounts. The defense can use that to blame Gates, but that doesn’t get around the emails from Manafort lying about the foreign accounts, which is why they’re so good for prosecutors.
9/ Nonetheless today’s testimony showed why Gates will be important. I expect that he’ll testify that Manafort knew about all of the fraud and instructed him to facilitate his fraud. That’s why the defense is coming at Gates so hard and why emails directly from Manafort are key.
10/ The tax preparer also testified that Manafort told him to lie to the bank about whether his Trump Tower property was a rental. That’s also bank fraud. Manafort has to convince the jury that this preparer, among with Laporta, is a liar or somehow mistaken. That will be hard.
11/ Today’s testimony strongly suggests that I was right to predict yesterday that Manafort won’t take the stand. It will be too hard for him to explain away all of the documents, emails, and testimony establishing his guilt.
12/ The testimony and documents from Day Four is the meat of the prosecution’s evidence as to several of the many fraud counts. That evidence, not the lavish spending, is what will sink Manafort. Fraud cases are all about proving that the defendant knowingly lied to get money.
13/ There will be fireworks when Gates testifies, and the cross of Laporta will be important, although the defense has to be careful not to come across as mean to her. But the evidence thus far already appears too much for the defense to overcome absent some major surprise.
14/ Here is the summary of Day Four of the trial from the @CNN reporters in the courtroom: cnn.com/2018/08/03/pol…
15/ Here are the day’s key takeaways, from @cnn reporter @kpolantz: amp.cnn.com/cnn/2018/08/03…
16/ And in case you missed it, here is my thread discussing Day Three of the trial. /end
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