That includes longtime Manafort deputy Rick Gates, who testified against his former boss. These questions about Gates' extramarital tryst also carried faint echoes of Trump, coming less than a month after the release of a tape in which Trump can be heard discussing buying the rights to the story of a woman who claimed to have had an affair with him.
HuffPost Illustration/Getty Images Paul Manafort.
The case against Manafort has little to do with either man's work for the Trump campaign and there's been no discussion during the trial about whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russian Federation - the central question Mueller's team has tried to answer. Downing asked Gates Tuesday, a rhetorical question everyone present at the trial with any courtroom experience saw coming a mile away.
Gates said that Manafort asked him to meet with one of the Ukrainian businessmen involved in paying him millions of dollars to find out if one of the shell companies used to pay him was a "clean entity".
Judge T.S. Ellis III asks the jurors before court begins each day whether they were able to follow his instructions and not discuss the case with anyone.
"I have made many mistakes over many years", Gates, 46, replied. "The secret Rick Gates?"
Manafort's political work included advising Viktor Yanukovich on policy after he won the Ukrainian presidency, Gates said. Manafort is charged with money laundering and conspiracy.
Both Manafort and Gates were indicted past year on charges of bank and tax fraud as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe.
Gates, Manafort's longtime right-hand man, pleaded guilty in February to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of lying to an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent in exchange for testifying against his former boss. Manafort's defence team's has tried to pin much of the blame for financial crimes on Gates and raise doubts about his ethics and morals.
Prosecutors say Manafort fraudulently secured more than $20 million dollars in bank loans by falsely inflating his income and failing to disclose debts.
But the defense team has taken on the the daunting task of convincing jurors that Gates, who was in constant communication with Manafort and carrying out his wishes, is an unreliable witness who had simply gone rogue and independently chose to boost his boss' personal income over a period of several years.
Andres also revisited the embezzlement Gates committed against Manafort.
Downing accused Gates of lying on expense reports to make trips to London and around Europe.
Although the allegations of collusion between Donald Trump and Russian Federation are not at issue in this trial, any significant blows to the government's case are likely be seized on by the president's defenders, including conservative media, to support his contention that Mueller's investigation is a "rigged witch-hunt".
Greg Andres, an attorney with special counsel Robert Mueller's office, said the prosecution is running ahead of schedule. Afterward, Downing dropped the Trump-related line of questioning, moving on to other topics without explanation.
Trump has recently sought to distance himself from Manafort, tweeting that the former top campaign official "worked for me for a very short time".
Downing also ventured into territory both sides had agreed to avoid: discussion of Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
In general, references to Trump at the trial have been few and far between. The firm's director was known to Manafort and Gates as "Doctor K". Unable to keep up with his bills, he was on the verge of financial ruin.
"The idea of exchanging income for loans reduced his overall tax liability", Gates said.