Mueller investigation draws most direct line between Trump campaign and Russia

Sheila Mcguire
March 29, 2018

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 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.

The court declaring is attached to the sentencing of Dutch legal representative Alex van der Zwaan, that begged guilty last month to existing to the unique advice regarding his communications with Gates.

Gates, who was Paul Manafort's top deputy when Manafort was Trump's campaign manager, was indicted at the end of October on money laundering and conspiracy charges along with his former boss.

Mr. Kilimnik has maintained residences in Moscow and Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, and has traveled regularly between them during years of working for Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates on behalf of various Russia-aligned oligarchs and political parties. Kilimnik has declined comment on whether he was Person A.

Mueller said the report "that Gates and Person A were directly communicating in September and October 2016 was pertinent" to his investigation, adding that Federal Bureau of Investigation special agents found "Person A" had ties to a Russian intelligence service.

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Mueller's prosecutors have introduced evidence that Manafort emailed Kilimnik as recently as November 29, about changes to an editorial that ran in an English-language Ukrainian newspaper about his case.

Van Der Zwaan says he never told anyone, including a Skadden senior partner he recorded, about the recordings.

Manafort worked for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in the 2010 election, when he was challenged by Orange Revolution opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. But Gates remained aboard through the campaign and transition.

In fact, van der Zwaan is accused of giving Gates "talking points as to how to present the report in an advantageous light to Ukraine", against the express wishes of his law firm.

That line is drawn in a new court filing related to the upcoming sentencing of London attorney Alex van der Zwaan.

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It might not mean much - but if it didn't, why would van der Zwaan (and possibly Gates) try to keep it from investigators and risk an obstruction of justice charge?

"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.

Could this new revelation lead the Special Counsel down the road to collusion?

Within days, van der Zwaan made a decision to come clean. In a second meeting with prosecutors, he admitted his lies.

Van Der Zwaan says he turned over "numerous electronic devices to Skadden", which were handed over to Mueller's team. His wife, Eva, is married to a Russian oligarch, German Khan.

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