Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team has alleged that a business associate of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is a former member of the Russian intelligence services, and that Manafort and Rick Gates also a former Trump campaign official had ongoing contacts with the individual during the 2016 presidential campaign.
According to investigators Gates has also said he knew the individual was a former member of the Russian military intelligence service as he was interacting with him.
The revelations were made as part of a court filing related to the sentencing of a London-based attorney named Alex van der Zwaan, who was charged by Mueller’s team last month with making false statements to the FBI and failing to surrender evidence.
Van Der Zwaan helped Ukraine’s Justice Ministry prepare a report in 2012 on the trial of Ukrainian politician Yulia Tymoshenko. Tymoshenko had been the main political rival of pro-Russian Ukrainian dictator Victor Yanukovych. The trial was largely seen as persecution of Tymoshenko by Yanukovych as she was calling for a movement in the country towards the EU and away from Russian influence.
Van Der Zwaan was working for a London law firm that helped prepare that report, which was designed to counter international criticism of Tymoshenko’s trial.
Van Der Zwaan lied to the FBI about the last communications he had with Rick Gates. Both Gates and Manafort, have been indicted by Robert Mueller for allegedly laundering millions of dollars received for their lobbying efforts on behalf of a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party, the same party as Yanukovych’s, years before their association with Donald Trump, as well as lying to the FBI.
According February’s charges, Van Der Zwaan lied to investigators when he told them that his last communication with Rick Gates was in August of 2016. According to the charges, Van Der Zwaan had spoken to Gates, and another individual, identified only as “Person A,” in September of 2016. The charges also allege that Van Der Zwaan discussed the Tymoshenko report with Gates and “Person A,” recorded the calls, but then deleted or did not otherwise produce emails about the conversations between he and “Person A” had after Mueller’s team asked him for them.
“Person A,” it is now being alleged, is a former member of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service.
Gates has struck a plea deal with Mueller and is now cooperating with the investigation. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the charges leveled against him and is fighting them.
Manafort has repeatedly denied knowingly communicating with either active or former Russian intelligence service members during the 2016 campaign. “It’s not like these people wear badges that say, ‘I’m a Russian intelligence officer,’” he told The New York Times last year.
Photo: Special Counsel Bob Mueller by The White House from Washington, D.C. via Wikimedia Commons