Trump aide communicated with ex-Russian intelligence officer during 2016 election
29 March 2018, 01:32 | Isaac Mcdaniel
Former Trump campaign official Rick Gates allegedly was in contact with someone tied to Russian intelligence in 2016
"The fact that an official who had an important role in the Trump campaign alongside (Paul) Manafort was dealing with an individual who he knew was tied to Russian intelligence is a big deal, as is the fact that Mueller made a decision to put that card face up on the table at this time", said a person familiar with Mueller's investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Deripaska has since filed a civil lawsuit in NY state court against Gates and Manafort that accuses them of defrauding him out of an investment deal.
Rick Gates, the former aide, told an attorney for a US law firm that a Russian they worked with in Ukraine was a former military intelligence officer, according to the filing late Tuesday in Washington. In new court documents filed Wednesday, Mueller is asserting the strongest ties yet: that Manafort and his associate Richard Gates communicated with a former Russian spy with ongoing connections to Russian intelligence during the 2016 campaign.
Months later, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and agreed to cooperate with investigators in exchange for a lenient sentence.
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.
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Manafort has also denied knowingly communicating with Russian intelligence during the campaign. (GRU is Russia's military intelligence organization.) So according to van der Zwaan, Gates talked openly about Person A's ties to Russian intelligence. Mueller is now apparently directly disputing that using Gates's own words.
The filing shed little light on whether Americans aided Russia's interference in the 2016 election, but it shows that prosecutors believe a top Trump official remained in contact with a Russian intelligence-linked operative well into the campaign.
It is unlikely that Manafort will escape conviction now that his co-defendant Richard Gates has agreed to work with the special counsel and the charges against him are no longer focused on rarely-prosecuted legal infractions involving the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). An investigation by Ukrainian prosecutors into Mr. Kilimnik's possible links to Russian spy agencies was closed late a year ago without charges.
Mueller described those calls - and van der Zwaan's subsequent misstatements to investigators about them - as "material to the special counsel's office".
Update: And of course, the biggest issue here is that Gates himself admitted to van der Zwaan that he knew of Kilimnik's relationships with Russian intel at the time.
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