Trump's lawyer discussed idea of him pardoning Flynn, Manafort

Trump's lawyer discussed idea of him pardoning Flynn, Manafort

Kerry Wise
March 29, 2018

The White House pushed back Wednesday against reports that President Donald Trump's former lawyer had considered pardoning Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort, stressing that such clemency is not now under consideration for anyone tied to the investigation into alleged Russian election meddling.

The other new piece here is that they say Gates described Person A (again, apparently Kilimnik) as "a former Russian Intelligence Officer with GRU".

The description of Person A in the court records appears to match that of Konstantin Kilimnik, a Ukrainian who worked for Manafort.

The allegations underscore Mueller's interest in Manafort and Gates, who continued to interact with business associates in Ukraine even as they helped lead Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

The filing Tuesday, however, related to a separate case involving attorney Alexander van der Zwaan, who pleaded guilty to lying to investigators in relation to a 2012 project connected with Ukraine.

Mr. van der Zwaan originally told Mr. Mueller's investigators that he had not spoken to Mr. Gates since August 2016, but subsequently admitted he had lied after prosecutors confronted him with evidence of conversations.

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Mr. van der Zwaan was an attorney at a firm that worked with Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates to prepare a report used to defend Viktor F. Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president, from worldwide criticism over the prosecution and incarceration of one of his political rivals.

That Person A has had ties to Russian intelligence is not terribly surprising. According to the Post's account, van der Zwaan attempted to hide those connections, both by misleading investigators and withholding documents, until they formally interrogated him about the matter.

Gates pleaded guilty last month to lying to the FBI and conspiring to defraud the United States, and he has agreed to cooperate with Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether there was any collusion with Moscow by Trump's campaign.

The report cited "three people with knowledge of the talks". Last month, he pleaded guilty to two counts - the first count, conspiring against the USA, comes from the original October indictment of Gates and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. We will not likely get an answer to that question any time soon, but the contacts between Kilimnik and Gates in September and October of 2016 while Gates was still working on the campaign are undeniably curious, at the very least.

Filing shows prosecutors believe a top Trump official remained in contact with a Russian intelligence-linked operative well into campaign.