According to a document filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office on Tuesday, former President Trump campaign aide Rick Gates was in contact with a man he knew to be a former Russian spy just before the 2016 presidential election. Different reports pointed out that the revelation came in a sentencing memorandum that was filed against Alex Van der Zwaan. Apparently, this man was a London-based lawyer who pleaded guilty last month to lying to Mueller’s investigators about his contacts with the former Russian spy and Gates.
As noted in the memo, Gates told the London-based lawyer that he was fully aware that one of their associates was a former Russian intelligence officer with the GRU, which is Russia’s military intelligence outfit. On the memo, the former Russian spy was identified as Person A and was described as a Ukrainian foreign national. Some analysts believe that this action represents a desperate move from Mueller since they point out that it would be difficult to connect this case with the center core of his investigation.
According to the filing, the ex-GRU agent maintained contacts with the Russian intelligence at the time he was interacting with Gates.
The filing from the special counsel pointed out that the FBI Special Agents assisting Mueller’s office assessed that the ex-GRU agent had deep ties to a Russian intelligence service in the year of the presidential election.
Apparently, Van der Zwaan admitted during his first interview with the Special Counsel’s office that he was fully aware of that connection.
The filing points out that the London-based lawyer told Mueller that Gates told him that Person A was a former Russian Intelligence Officer with the GRU.
While many believe these revelations will take Mueller nowhere, others state that this could be a really controversial case that could set the first major evidence of a possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
After all, while there’s still no proof that suggests this ex-GRU had any kind of relationship with what happened to John Podesta’s emails, it is almost impossible to think that the Russian intelligence wasn’t operating on behalf of the Kremlin.
In addition to these details, the Mueller’s filing also states that Gates and the Ukrainian foreign national were “directly communicating” in September and October of the year 2016.
As everyone knows, the special counsel’s team has yet to produce evidence that Gates, Van der Zwaan, or even Gates’ business partner Paul Manafort were somehow involved in a scheme to sabotage the 2016 presidential election.
Instead, Mueller has indicted Manafort and Gates on different charges related to their consulting work for the former Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych some years ago.
According to the filing, the 33-year-old London-based lawyer worked for Gates and Manafort while with the International law firm Skadden Arps.
Apparently, Manafort’s firm was paid millions of dollars to clean up Yanukovych’s image in Ukraine.
Naturally, this was a really difficult and compromising endeavor considering that Yanukovych was well-known for his human rights violations and authoritarianism.
Several analysts explained that this was the kind of job that while it can definitely make you rich, it could also hurt your image and reputation.
As part of the effort to rehabilitate Yanukovych’s image, Gates and Manafort decided to hire Skadden Arps to create a report that somehow it managed to justify the imprisonment of Yulia Tymoshenko, who was the famous political opponent of the Ukrainian autocrat.
According to different reports, while Manafort is still fighting the charges, Gates has recently started to cooperate with the Mueller’s team.
Back in February, the London-based lawyer admitted that he lied to the special counsel’s investigators during a November interview.
Van der Zwaan initially denied having any kind of contact with Gates and the ex-GRU agent in September 2016.
Nevertheless, he acknowledged in a court filing of his own on Tuesday that he actually recorded the conversations he had with both individuals.
The lawyer said that the ex-GRU agent made him aware that charges could be forthcoming against them in Ukraine over their report on the Yanukovych’s political opponent.
Additionally, Van der Zwaan said that he recorded a conversation he had with a partner at the law firm Skadden Arps regarding his conversations with the Ukrainian foreign national.
The London-based lawyer said that he decided to lie about the conversations because he didn’t want to admit that he recorded these three individuals. According to different reports, he pleaded for no jail time.