Mueller's prosecutors named Gates on their list of potential witnesses ahead of Manafort's trial, indicating that he was expected to play a central role in the prosecutor's case against his former boss.
Paul Manafort's financial crimes trial, the first arising from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, will center on his Ukrainian consulting work and only briefly touch on his involvement with the president's campaign.
The Republican president wrote on Twitter, "This is a bad situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further", adding that Mueller's team is a "disgrace to US". Typically, government officials refrain from commenting on any criminal cases, particularly when those cases are on trial.
The prosecution is attempting to prove that Manafort falsely signed his income tax returns, omitting some of his income and hiding foreign bank accounts.
"Manafort is not on trial for leading a lavish lifestyle", he said. But Ellis prevented the prosecution from showing pictures in court of the custom suits that were among Manafort's purchases. He denied allegations that Manafort had tried to hide his earnings by storing money in bank accounts in Cyprus, saying that arrangement was not of Manafort's doing but was instead the preferred method of payment of the supporters of the pro-Russia Ukrainian political party who were paying his consulting fees. Maximillian Katzman, of New York's elite custom clothier Alan Couture, said Manafort was one of his top customers and, unlike any other customer, paid with worldwide wire transfers.
Katzman provided similar testimony about two invoices he was shown by prosecutors that contained small mistakes in the spelling of Alan Couture's name and address.
Manafort's defense team has argued that prosecutors are seeking to use his spending against him, and Judge T.S. Ellis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia repeatedly pushed the prosecution on Wednesday to get to the point as they offered evidence of his spending habits. "It's a lot, and Paul Manafort trusted that Rick Gates was keeping track of it", Zehnle said. And the pejorative term "oligarchs" and evidence of home renovations aren't necessarily relevant to the charges in question, he added.
But Manafort's connection to the Trump campaign, which he managed for five months in 2016, has filled the courtroom with reporters and the internet with readers. Between 2010 and 2012, Manafort spent $334,000 at the shop, which bills itself as "the world's most expensive store". Its CFO, Ronald Wall, testified that wire transfer was an unusual way for its clients to pay, but Manafort used regularly.
Manafort, who has been jailed for almost two months, wore a black suit and appeared fully engaged in his defense, whispering with his attorneys during jury selection and scribbling notes as the prosecution began its opening statement.
While Trump tied Manafort's trial to his denials of collusion with Russia - writing "these old charges have nothing to do with Collusion - a Hoax!" and asking "Where is the Russian Collusion?" - the question of Russian influence on the election barely hung over the days proceedings.
The trial, however, is not about Russian Federation, or any such conspiracy, focused instead on the personal and business finances of Manafort, Trump's onetime campaign chairman.
The judge has warned prosecutors not to inject Russian matters into the case, and on Wednesday morning instructed them not to use the word "oligarch" when describing some of the people connected to the case.
At the judge's urging, the trial has gotten off to a fast start, and it seemed to only accelerate on its second day. The witness accounts were also meant to contradict Manafort's lawyers, who have signaled they will pin blame for any illegal conduct on his longtime deputy, Rick Gates.
Manafort lived extravagantly, buying expensive homes and cars and spending more than $500,000 on "fancy clothes" and $21,000 for a watch, a prosecutor said in the government's opening statement.