Donald Trump

Robert Mueller just drew his most direct line to date between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian intelligence agents

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 March, 2018, 10:09pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 March, 2018, 10:08pm

Former Trump campaign official Rick Gates had repeated contact with someone tied to Russian intelligence during the 2016 election campaign, according to prosecutors.

Special counsel Robert Mueller charged Gates and his partner Paul Manafort with money laundering last year over their work in Ukraine, though defenders including US President Donald Trump have said that the charges have nothing to do with alleged meddling in the 2016 election.

Documents filed on Tuesday by Mueller, however, say that Gates had continued contact with a former Russian intelligence officer during the 2016 campaign, and that Gates acknowledged he knew that the person used to work for the GRU military intelligence agency.

Details in the document suggest that the person is Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian man who managed Manafort’s office in Ukraine.

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.

Gates pleaded guilty to lying to investigators last month, and is believed to be working with the probe as it goes after his former partner and others.

His reported knowledge of “Person A” came from Alexander van der Zwaan, the son-in-law of a Russian oligarch who was a lawyer at megafirm Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom.

Van der Zwaan previously pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his contacts with Gates during work for the pro-Russian government of Ukraine, which was ousted in 2014.

The 33-year-old lawyer’s legal team said in sentencing documents on Tuesday that his “world has collapsed as a result of his decision to lie to law enforcement” and that he did not need to serve prison time.

Prosecutors argued that he should because it would be easy for his wealthy family to help him pay a fine, but that any sentence should allow him to go to the United Kingdom for the birth of his first child in August. Sentencing guidelines suggest up to 6 months in prison.