Mueller: Rick Gates Communicated With Ex-Russian Spy Before Election


During his first interview with the Special Counsel's Office, van der Zwaan admitted that he knew of that connection, stating that Gates told him Person A was a former Russian Intelligence Officer with GRU.

Van Der Zwaan faces a sentence of zero to six months, but asked for a non-jail sentence since his willingness to admit his false statements and correct the record "has come at great cost".

Additional court papers urge the judge in the case to incarcerate the accused lawyer.

Gates remained in touch with "Person A" late in the campaign, Mueller said, communicating with the associate and van der Zwaan in a "series of calls" in September and October of 2016. Gates has already plead guilty and is working with the special counsel, while Manafort appears to maintain his innocence. In documents filed with the court late last night, Mueller specified that a person of interest in the investigation that had contact with Rick Gates and Paul Manafort had connections to Russian intelligence. The papers make it clear that this is an important matter for the probe and highlight that Gates knew that "Person A" had been a GRU officer; Mueller's team writes that documents about their communications were "material" and "pertinent to the investigation". 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). "Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agents assisting the Special Counsel's Office assess that Person A has ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016". However, Kilimnik's involvement with Manafort and Gates was known since at least early 2017, when he gave an interview to Radio Free Europe, an outlet funded by the United States government.

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"Focused on preserving his career at Skadden, and fearful that truthful answers could lead to discovery of the recordings (and in particular, the discovery that he had recorded a Skadden partner), Alex made a bad decision: he chose to cut off the inquiry at its inception by lying about the September 2016 conversations with Gates and Person A", according to the defense filing. Mueller is now apparently directly disputing that using Gates's own words.

Manafort, who has denied knowingly communicating with Russian intelligence officials in 2016, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, fraud and money laundering charges tied to their alleged work for a Russian-friendly Ukraine political party. Kilimnik told The Post in June that he has "no relation to the Russian or any other intelligence service".

Anxious about the lies he told, Van Der Zwaan says he returned to the United States Nov. 16 to correct the record with Mueller's team.

The new van der Zwaan filing doesn't shed a whole bunch of new light on that, but it does suggest that Mueller views Kilimnik as a possible link between the Trump campaign and Russia, and believes Kilimnik hasn't been forthcoming about his ties to Russian intelligence.

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