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New Mueller filing: Manafort, Gates tied to Russian spy in 2016

29 March, 2018, 01:32 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Trump Campaign Aide Rick Gates Had 'Substantive' Conversations with Ex-Russian Intel Officer in 2016

Specifically, according to a new report from the New York Times, the president's (now-former) attorney John Dowd told Flynn's lawyer that Trump believed the case against his client was bogus, and that he was prepared to pardon Flynn, should he be found guilty. But Gates remained aboard through the campaign and transition.

Manafort's lawyers argue that Mueller lacks the authority to prosecute Manafort since the bulk of the allegations predate the 2016 presidential campaign and aren't directly linked to Russian Federation.

They also said that when van der Zwaan was interviewed by the special counsel's office, he "admitted that he knew" about the Russian connection because Gates had told him about it.

The information about the FBI's assessment of the Manafort associate came in a court filing related to the upcoming sentencing of London attorney Alex van der Zwaan, whose firm worked with Manafort when he served a political consultant in Ukraine. In December, they said this associate was "a longtime Russian colleague. who is now based in Russia and assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service".

Due largely to the complicating presence of van der Zwaan, it remains far too early to judge how badly this revelation reflects upon the Trump campaign. Why those six words were added in this filing when they didn't appear in a previous filing is the $64,000 question.

Van der Zwaan, 33, the son-in-law of a prominent Russian-Ukrainian banker, pleaded guilty last month to lying about his September 2016 contacts with Gates and the Manafort associate, identified in court documents only as "Person A".

While these allegations are still unconfirmed, the president has openly discussed potential pardons for former aides under investigation in the Russian Federation probe, according to two people with knowledge of the interviews who spoke with the Times. Manafort reportedly met with him at least twice that year, including in August, during a crucial stretch of the campaign.

Mueller described those calls - and van der Zwaan's subsequent misstatements to investigators about them - as "material to the special counsel's office".

The connection between Gates and the former intelligence officer, identified only as "Person A" in the records filed late on Tuesday, is significant because criminal charges brought against Gates and Manafort relate only to their lobbying work for Ukraine prior to the 2016 US presidential election and do not delve into their activities during the campaign. An investigation by Ukrainian prosecutors into Mr. Kilimnik's possible links to Russian spy agencies was closed late past year without charges.



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