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Ex-Trump campaign official Rick Gates 'communicated with a former Russian intelligence officer', says FBI

Mr Gates is cooperating with a special counsel investigation into alleged ties between Russia and the Trump campaign 

Alexandra Wilts
Washington DC
Wednesday 28 March 2018 17:28 BST
Richard Gates, former associate to Paul Manafort, leaves the Prettyman Federal Courthouse after a hearing
Richard Gates, former associate to Paul Manafort, leaves the Prettyman Federal Courthouse after a hearing (Getty Images )

Former Trump campaign official Rick Gates is alleged to have communicated with an ex-Russian intelligence officer during the 2016 election, according to recently filed court documents.

The documents, filed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, allege that Mr Gates was aware that an unidentified associate “was a former Russian Intelligence Officer”.

Mr Mueller is leading a probe for the FBI into whether Donald Trump’s campaign advisers colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 presidential election. Mr Trump has insisted there was no collusion.

Mr Gates, a business associate of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, pleaded guilty last month to two federal charges brought by Mr Mueller’s team – one count of conspiracy against the US and one count of making false statements to FBI agents. He is cooperating with Mr Mueller’s investigation.

Mr Mueller’s team alleges that Mr Gates and the ex-Russian intelligence officer communicated with one another in the months leading up to the election in November 2016. Such communication “was pertinent to the investigation”, prosecutors said.

The information was made public in a sentencing memorandum for Alex van der Zwann, a London-based lawyer who pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators and has been cooperating with Mr Mueller.

During an interview with Mueller’s investigators last November, the filing says, Mr van der Zwaan “deliberately and repeatedly lied” about his communications with Mr Gates, the filing said, even after being “expressly warned by the government that it is a crime to lie to the Special Counsel’s Office.”

One of those lies, the filing alleges, was about the former Russian military intelligence directorate (GRU) agent, identified in the document as “Person A.” This unnamed person worked in Ukraine for Mr Manafort’s company, Davis Manafort International, on its lobbying work for the government and lived in Kiev and Moscow until mid-August 2016.

Mr Manafort was also indicted in the special counsel’s investigation. He has pleaded not guilty to more than a dozen charges that include money laundering and conspiracy.

During his first interview with the Special Counsel’s Office, Mr van der Zwaan admitted that he knew the person Mr Gates was communicating with had ties to Russian intelligence, “stating that Gates told him Person A was a former Russian Intelligence Officer with the GRU”, referring to Russia’s military intelligence agency.

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