Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has connected former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates to a person with ties to Russian intelligence, according to a new court filing.
The individual was not identified by name, but court documents filed late Tuesday night said they had lived in Kiev and Moscow and worked for one of the former companies of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Mr. Gates worked for several years as one of Manafort’s business associates.
Court documents allege that Gates and the unnamed individual were in touch in September and October 2016, just before the election. The contacts are “pertinent to the investigation,” prosecutors said in a court filing.
The court filing was made in response to a request for leniency by Dutch attorney Alex van der Zwaan. The attorney pleaded guilty last month to lying to Mr. Mueller’s investigators about his interactions with Gates and the unnamed individual with Russian ties.
Mr. Mueller has been investigation Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. He has indicted multiple people, including Gates, van der Zwaan and Mr. Manafort. Gates and van der Zwaan have both pleaded guilty while Mr. Manafort has maintained his innocence.
In his own court filings, van der Zwaan asked the judge for an “appropriate fine” instead of prison time. He told the judge that if he is sentenced to prison, he would likely miss the birth of his first child in London.
Van der Zwaan faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, but could also not receive any prison time. He also could be fined up to $250,000.
The 33-year-old lawyer was fired from his job at the London office of law firm Skadden Arps Slate Meager & Flom. The firm prepared a 2012 report on behalf of the Ukrainian government defending the imprisonment of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister.
Mr. Manafort and Gates, lobbied on behalf of the Ukrainian government, were accused of secretly funneling $4 million from an offshore bank account to pay for the Ukrainian report.
Van der Zwaan was questioned by investigators on Nov. 3, just days after the indictment against Mr. Manafort and Gates became public, according to court documents. At the time van der Zwaan told FBI agents his last communication with Gates was an “innocuous” text message in mid-August 2016. He also said his last communication with Person A was in 2014 and he didn’t know why the special counsel’s prove had been given a 2016 email exchange with that person.
Last month, van der Zwaan admitted he had exchanged emails, failed to turn them over to investigators and had destroyed evidence of the communications without telling his lawyer. He also admitted to the September 2016 conversation with Mr. Gates about the Tymoshenko report.
Sentencing for van der Zwaan is set for April 3.
• Jeff Mordock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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