President's attorney floated idea of Flynn, Manafort pardon

Saul Bowman
March 29, 2018

"The fact that an official who had an important role in the Trump campaign alongside (Paul) Manafort was dealing with an individual who he knew was tied to Russian intelligence is a big deal, as is the fact that Mueller made a decision to put that card face up on the table at this time", said a person familiar with Mueller's investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

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.

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. 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. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his interactions with Gates and the former intelligence officer and is to be sentenced on April 3.

These new details were revealed in a court filing about the upcoming sentencing of Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer who worked with Gates and Manafort. Van der Zwaan, who has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators, told the special counsel that Gates told him the person in question was a former Russian Intelligence Officer with the GRU.

Manafort has also denied knowingly communicating with Russian intelligence during the campaign. Kilimnik told The Post in June that he has "no relation to the Russian or any other intelligence service". He recommended a jail sentence that would allow van der Zwaan to return to his home in the United Kingdom in time for his wife - the daughter of a prominent Russian oligarch - to give birth in August 2018.

The connection between Gates and the former intelligence officer, identified only as "Person A" in the records filed late on Tuesday, is significant because criminal charges brought against Gates and Manafort relate only to their lobbying work for Ukraine prior to the 2016 US presidential election and do not delve into their activities during the campaign. Some conservatives have preemptively urged Trump to pardon family members and associates caught up in Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russian Federation. An investigation by Ukrainian prosecutors into Mr. Kilimnik's possible links to Russian spy agencies was closed late past year without charges. This individual is also described as being "pertinent to the investigation".

"Let's see, I can say this: When you look at what's gone on with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department, people are very, very angry".

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