Special counsel: Manafort, Gates worked with Russian intelligence agent

Lucy Bush
March 29, 2018

Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agents assisting the Special Counsel's Office assess that Person A has ties to Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016.

Gates was aware of the operative's links to Russian intelligence, the documents say. Lawyers for van der Zwaan said he should not be sentenced to jail.

Attorney Alex Van Der Zwann was sacked by prominent NY law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP previous year, and pleaded guilty as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Alex van der Zwaan arrives at a plea agreement hearing at the D.C. federal courthouse in Washington, Feb. 20, 2018.

Court records alleged that he falsely stated he did not know why a September 2016 email between him and "Person A" was not given to prosecutors, and spoke with both Gates and "Person A" over the Tymoshenko report, recorded the calls and deleted emails sought by prosecutors.

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Had Trump-Russia believers read Mueller's memo more carefully, they might have noticed it specifically states that the conversations between "Person A", van der Zwaan and Gates "concerned potential criminal charges in Ukraine" about a report concerning the corruption trial of a former government official and the compensation Gates and Manafort were paid for their lobbying work, rather than anything pertaining to the Trump campaign or the USA presidential election. While more ties between the Russians and Trump's campaign are revealed, one question is still in the minds of the American people: "What did the President know, and when did he know it?" But he added that it was "safe to say" that "Mueller is not prone to exaggeration, so they probably have this tightly tied down".

Prosecutors wrote that van der Zwaan "presents a scarcity of mitigating factors, and several aggravating circumstances", including the extent of his false statements to investigators.

The identity of Person A is unclear.

Kilimnik has denied ties to the intelligence community, telling the newspaper in June that he has "no relation to the Russian or any other intelligence service". This is income Manafort is accused of not reporting to the Treasury Department. Prosecutors and van der Zwaan's lawyers had estimated that he faced a sentencing range between zero to six months in jail, as well as a fine ranging from $500 to $9,500, according to court papers. He also revealed that before getting involved with Manafort and Gates in 2005, he worked for the International Republican Institute, a US-funded "democracy promotion" outfit whose board of directors is now chaired by Senator John McCain (R-Arizona).

Oleg Voloshyn, the spokesman for Ukraine's ministry of foreign affairs under Yanukovych, told Bloomberg past year that he wrote the op-ed article and sent a draft to Kilimnik in early December.

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Manafort, 68, was a top Republican strategist who worked for controversial foreign politicians for decades.

The op-ed article was submitted to the Kyiv Post, an English-language Ukrainian media outlet, which declined to publish it. Brian Bonner, the editor, told Bloomberg it was "highly suspicious" and "blatantly pro-Manafort".

These new details were revealed in a court filing about the upcoming sentencing of Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer who worked with Gates and Manafort. He is cooperating with Mueller's office.

Manafort pleaded not guilty to all charges, and Gates recently pleaded guilty to reduced charges in exchange for his cooperation in the Mueller probe. Manafort has maintained his not guilty plea to two federal indictments against him stemming from his work in Ukraine.

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