Trump Aide Spoke During Campaign to Associate Tied to Russian Intelligence

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While Manafort claims that he didn't know that Kilimnik had Russian intelligence ties, the special counsel alleges that Manafort's right hand man, Rick Gates, knew that Person A was a former Russian Intelligence Officer with the GRU (Russia's military). Prosecutors have said previously that a longtime Manafort and Gates associate had ties to Russian intelligence, but they have never said those ties remained during the 2016 campaign. Last month, Mr. Gates pleaded guilty to financial fraud and lying to investigators and has agreed to cooperate with Mr. Mueller's investigation.

Rick Gates, the former Donald Trump campaign adviser who pled guilty in February to conspiracy against the United States and making false statements, was "having substantive conversations" with someone he knew was a former Russian Intelligence Officer in 2016, according to a new filing by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Prosecutors made the allegation without naming the Manafort associate but described his role with Manafort in detail.

Van Der Zwaan's attorney, William Schwartz with Cooley LLP in NY, did not immediately return a voice mail seeking comment on the ruling left after hours.

But the documents say the person is an associate of Manafort's, and the description bears similarities to Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian-Ukrainian operative who has always been suspected to have ties to Russian intelligence. We will not likely get an answer to that question any time soon, but the contacts between Kilimnik and Gates in September and October of 2016 while Gates was still working on the campaign are undeniably curious, at the very least.

A Manafort spokesman expressed confidence in June that investigators would ultimately conclude that Manafort's interactions with Kilimnik were "perfectly permissible and not in furtherance of some conspiracy". In the sentencing memorandum filed late Tuesday, Muller said the lawyer was "expressly warned by the government that it is a crime to lie to the Special Counsel's Office, that lying could constitute a federal crime, and that such conduct would carry with it the possibility of going to jail if he were convicted. van der Zwaan stated that he understood".

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".

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Mueller's latest court filing - and more that come out of van der Zwaan's case - could help shed light on whether Person A was Kilimnik, and whether Manafort, as one of the highest-ranking members of the Trump campaign, knew that Person A was tied to Russian intelligence.

Van der Zwaan, who pleaded guilty to lying to prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the Russian Federation probe, faces an estimated zero to six months in jail, according to sentencing guidelines, BuzzFeed News reports.

Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman. This unnamed person worked in Ukraine for Manafort's company Davis Manafort International on its lobbying work for the government and lived in Kiev and Moscow until mid-August 2016. Stolen DNC emails had been released by WikiLeaks the previous month and the hack was widely suspected to be the work of Russian Federation.

Mr. Kilimnik was born in Ukraine when it was still part of the Soviet Union, and he served in the Russian Army as a linguist. However, Gates continued working for the Republican National Committee until the election and afterwards took a senior position on Trump's inaugural committee. A Deripaska spokeswoman has said the billionaire, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was not offered and did not receive such briefings.

That Person A has had ties to Russian intelligence is not terribly surprising.

What you need to know about Paul Manafort's ties to Russian Federation.

Authors Information: Rosalind Helderman is a political enterprise and investigations reporter for The Washington Post.

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