Special counsel: Manafort, Gates worked with Russian intelligence agent

The Washington Post  Getty Images FILE

The Washington Post Getty Images FILE

Mr. van der Zwaan was an attorney at a firm that worked with Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates to prepare a report used to defend Viktor F. Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president, from global criticism over the prosecution and incarceration of one of his political rivals.

Van der Zwaan's father-in-law, the Russian billionaire German Khan, who co-founded Alfa Group, a large financial conglomerate, was recently named in the Treasury Department's list of Russian oligarchs.

Russian Federation investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged Gates and his partner Paul Manafort with money laundering past year over their work in Ukraine, though defenders including President Trump have said that the charges have nothing to do with alleged meddling in the 2016 election. Prosecutors have said previously that a longtime Manafort and Gates associate had ties to Russian intelligence, but they have never said those ties remained during the 2016 campaign. Gates has already plead guilty and is working with the special counsel, while Manafort appears to maintain his innocence. The firm later agreed to cooperate in the Mueller probe.

Van der Zwaan will be the first person to face sentencing in Mueller's probe, CNN noted.

Both Manafort and Gates were indicted in October on multiple felony counts including conspiracy, money laundering, and false statements, much of it stemming from their work on behalf of pro-Russian interests in Ukraine. "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".

Mueller, in a Tuesday sentencing memorandum for Attorney Alex van der Zwaan, who pleaded guilty last month to lying in about his communications with Gates, suggested that the former Trump campaign adviser was in direct contact with an unnamed Ukrainian business associate and Russian intelligence official, referred to as "Person A", during the 2016 campaign, including just weeks before the November election.

The Post suspected that the unidentified former intelligence agent was Konstantin Kilimnik who also managed Manafort's lobbying office in Ukraine. At his plea hearing, the judge discussed a fine and possible reduced punishment of from zero to six months in prison.

"This widely publicized prosecution, as well as its collateral consequences, sends a strong message to anyone who considers lying to federal investigators", the sentencing memorandum from van der Zwaan says.

Van der Zwaan's memo Tuesday describes the work he did at the law firm Skadden Arps, which eventually led to his guilty plea.

Van Der Zwaan admitted to one charge of lying to investigators about his interaction with Gates. However, Gates continued working for the Republican National Committee until the election and afterwards took a senior position on Trump's inaugural committee.

Proponents of the accusation that Trump "colluded" with Russian Federation during the 2016 presidential election jumped on the revelations.

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