US Special Counsel Links Former Russian Intelligence Official to Trump Campaign

London attorney Alex van der Zwaan arrives at Federal District Court in Washington DC on February 20. Van der Zwaan has
Lies, Pleas and Indictment Heat
Author

30 March, 2018

Van der Zwaan, who has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators, told the special counsel that Gates told him the person in question was a former Russian Intelligence Officer with the GRU.

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.

Manafort has denied that Kilimnik had ties to Russian intelligence. The fact that Rick Gates knew that Person A had ties to Russian intelligence casts doubt on notions that contacts between Russian officials and the Trump campaign were "unwitting". But the court document says Gates told an associate that "Person A" was "a former Russian intelligence officer with the G.R.U.", the Russian military intelligence agency. Van der Zwaan, who is now cooperating with the special counsel, is alleged to have withheld and destroyed documents relating to his communications with Manafort, Gates, and Person A, as well as lying to the special counsel about them.

Mueller has charged both Gates and Manafort with alleged crimes unrelated to their connections with an alleged former Russian intelligence operative. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his interactions with Gates and the former intelligence officer and is to be sentenced on April 3.

The "bombshell" revelation, according to Trump's critics and many United States media outlets, is that Gates and van der Zwaan had contacts with a "Person A" residing in Ukraine in September and October of 2016.

Kilimnik has denied having ties to Russian intelligence services and both Trump and Russia have denied any collusion to help Trump win the election.

The Washington Post, Associated Press, and other media reported a year ago that Kilimnik acted as an intermediary during the campaign between Manafort and Russian alumnium magate Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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In July 2016 Manafort, then chairman of Trump's presidential campaign, emailed Kilimnik asking him to offer Deripaska "private briefings" about the campaign, according to the Washington Post. Manafort, however, can not be pardoned for state crimes he faces in Virginia - charges which he is now attempting to have dismissed, ABC reports.

The New York Times reported that Kilimnik, who maintains residences in both Moscow and Kyiv, was born in Ukraine when it was still part of the Soviet Union, and he served in the Russian Army as a linguist.

The revelation that Gates knew Kilimnik had been a Russian intelligence officer could prove to be the most significant turn in Mueller's investigation to date, said a person familiar with the probe into whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to charges in two indictments filed by Mueller's office.

While the President's legal team denies the notion that a pardon was ever discussed, the New York Times has been told that the possibility of a pardon for both Manafort and Michael Flynn was indeed floated by the President's lawyers a year ago.

The Trump attorney, John Dowd, who recently resigned from Trump's legal team, denied any discussions about pardons.


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