Manafort associate had Russian intelligence ties during 2016 campaign, prosecutors say

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"He thereafter deliberately and repeatedly lied", as well as "withheld and otherwise destroyed documents requested by the Special Counsel's Office through his counsel relating to his work with Manafort, Gates, and Person A" including a September 12, 2016, email "that the government had obtained through other means".

The filing Tuesday, however, related to a separate case involving attorney Alexander van der Zwaan, who pleaded guilty to lying to investigators in relation to a 2012 project connected with Ukraine. That article landed Manafort in hot water with prosecutors and the judge presiding over the federal criminal case against him. He has since pleaded guilty to lying to investigators to avoid trial over charges similar to those against Manafort. 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.

Van der Zwaan is scheduled to be sentenced next Tuesday on one count of making false statements. He'd be in position to know who the players were.

Lawyers for Manafort are seeking to dismiss the charges, arguing they have nothing to do with Russian interference and fall outside the scope of what Mueller is supposed to investigate, among other things.

Why would he do that, when the connection to Person A had been known for months?He's identified as Person A in the new filing, but as Aaron Blake notes, it's widely assumed to be a Ukrainian aide to Gates and Manafort named Konstantin Kilimnik. Gates and Manafort secretly funneled $4 million through offshore accounts to pay for the report, prosecutors said.

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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 awful 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.

"In van der Zwaan's recorded conversation with Person A, in Russian, Person A suggested that 'there were additional payments, ' that '[t] he official contract was only a part of the iceberg, ' and that the story may become a blow for 'you and me personally, '" prosecutors wrote. He said he also lied to investigators about his failure to turn over email communications, including ones where he considered working for the men who later became Trump campaign leaders, to the special counsel's office and to his law firm as it cooperated with Mueller on its investigation into Manafort and Gates' foreign lobbying. (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's team says he still has ties to the GRU, which the American intelligence community said was behind the hacks on Democrats' emails and disseminating them before the election, though Kilimnik has denied such claims.

Last October, The Atlantic also published several emails that appeared to show Manafort using his elevated role in the Trump campaign to work with Kilimnik in resolving a financial dispute with the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

A Manafort spokesman expressed confidence in June that investigators would ultimately conclude that Manafort's interactions with Kilimnik were "perfectly permissible and not in furtherance of some conspiracy".

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Gates was aware of the operative's links to Russian intelligence, the documents say.

In the document, prosecutors said Gates and van der Zwaan were in touch with the ex-Russian intelligence officer, who also worked for Manafort's lobbying firm in Ukraine, in September and October 2016.

Van der Zwaan's career as a lawyer may be over, and he risks missing the birth of his first child in London, it continues. Previous reporting had already documented the long-standing ties between Kilimnik and Manafort, including meetings the pair had during the campaign.

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.

At the time of the calls, Mr. Gates was the Trump campaign's liaison to the Republican National Committee and, before that, he was the campaign's deputy chairman.

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