How Rick Gates came across his extramarital confession
“He, unsolicited by me, let it slip, and that was for a short period of time,” Kevin Downing said the next day during a private conference with U.S. District Court Judge TS Ellis III and Mueller’s prosecutors.
Moments earlier, Downing had suggested in open court that Gates had up to four extramarital affairs while working as Manafort’s longtime deputy at the head of an international political consulting firm. The attorney insisted the subject was legitimate because Mueller’s team had pointed out that a plea deal Gates had made could be thrown out if he lied on the witness stand.
“It will go to your tearing up his plea deal for lying yesterday,” the defense attorney said.
This comment prompted an immediate objection from the special advocate’s office and a lengthy parallel discussion out of earshot of the jury and the public. This box was released Tuesday as part of the official trial transcript.
During the bench conference, Ellis mediated a heated exchange over Gates’ initial response and whether the witness had opened the door to additional questions about his case as it related to his related acknowledgment in the trial that he had embezzled several hundred thousand dollars from Les affaires de Manafort.
“Your honor said we weren’t going to discuss any of this,” Mueller’s attorney, Greg Andres, told Ellis, noting that the judge had indeed previously ruled there would be no mention of any relationships. extramarital affairs without first discussing the matter at a bench conference. .
“Mr. Downing violated that, obviously, but what is the possible relevance of whether or not Mr. Gates had other extramarital affairs? Andrés added.
Downing countered that Gates spoke to Mueller’s team during pre-trial interviews about his multiple cases and that the admission “goes to the motivation, his secret life, for embezzling money. So everything is related to that.
Manafort’s attorney said his cases were fair game for follow-up questions once Gates broached the subject at the mere mention of his “secret life.”
“I apologize because I thought ever since he opened the door letting it slip unsolicited, that it wasn’t a violation of our agreement, so I apologize,” Downing said.
“Well, that wasn’t a violation,” Ellis replied. “It’s irrelevant because I don’t see how it affects his credibility here.”
Downing went on to explain that Gates was trying to “minimize the reason or basis that led him to decide to embezzle the funds. He made it seem like it was a very short period of time and it was over.
Ellis ultimately decided he wouldn’t allow any questions about Gates having multiple affairs, but said Manafort’s team could establish “Gates’ secret life lasted for years.”
But before the bench conference ended, Mueller’s team continued to argue that any questions about extramarital affairs had no place in the trial.
“Mr. Gates had, I don’t know what to call it, but he had sex with other women besides his wife more than once. That’s not something relevant by any means,” Andres said.
Ellis rejected the special counsel’s argument.
“It is relevant if it is inconsistent with any other testimony he has given, because this jury must decide whether or not to believe this witness,” the judge said. “So if he’s been less than candid, less than truthful in his testimony, they have an opportunity to bring that out.”
Looking at one of Mueller’s lawyers in the group, the judge, who argued with prosecutors throughout the trial, then added, “You have a wonderful frown.”
When the court resumed, Downing asked a more generic question about Gates’ “secret life” and whether it spanned the five years in which Gates admitted to embezzling funds.
“I would say I’ve made a lot of mistakes over my years…” Gates replied before Ellis could interrupt him.
“Now is not the time for that,” the judge said, before Gates confirmed that his “secret life” took place during the time he was stealing money.