Gates had been number two to Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort until Manafort was sacked in summer 2016. He didn't produce an email that referred to the 2016 communications, as well as emails that would have revealed he was exploring options for leaving Skadden to work with Manafort and Gates. Kilimnik has declined comment on whether he was Person A. "He thereafter deliberately and repeatedly lied", as well as "withheld and otherwise destroyed documents requested by the Special Counsel's Office through his counsel relating to his work with Manafort, Gates, and Person A" including a September 12, 2016, email "that the government had obtained through other means".
Gates remained in touch with "Person A" late in the campaign, Mueller said, communicating with the associate and van der Zwaan in a "series of calls" in September and October of 2016.
In exchange for the guilty plea, Mueller's office agreed not to pursue charges against van der Zwaan in connection with any other false statements he made in November or December 2017, destruction of documents or evidence, or violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act - which requires individuals who lobby on behalf of foreign entities to register with the U.S. government - in connection with his work for the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice.
Manafort, who has denied knowingly communicating with Russian intelligence officials in 2016, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, fraud and money laundering charges tied to their alleged work for a Russian-friendly Ukraine political party.
Mueller's prosecutors have introduced evidence that Manafort emailed Kilimnik as recently as November 29, about changes to an editorial that ran in an English-language Ukrainian newspaper about his case.
Van der Zwaan's memo Tuesday describes the work he did at the law firm Skadden Arps, which eventually led to his guilty plea.
Manafort worked for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in the 2010 election, when he was challenged by Orange Revolution opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
The report defied the view held by the USA and the European Union that the case against her was politically motivated. His association with Gates and Manafort had been previously known, but not that those contacts continued into the presidential campaign.
During his first interview with Mueller's team, van der Zwaan said "Gates told him Person A was a former Russian Intelligence Officer with the GRU", the filing states. And van der Zwaan, all along, had grown far too close to the trio.
"Focused on preserving his career at Skadden, and fearful that truthful answers could lead to discovery of the recordings (and in particular, the discovery that he had recorded a Skadden partner), Alex made a awful decision: he chose to cut off the inquiry at its inception by lying about the September 2016 conversations with Gates and Person A", according to the defense filing.
Gates also admitted that he helped Manafort mislead Manafort's tax preparer and did not disclose the accounts overseas, which had more than $10,000.
But it's not the prospect of jail time for van der Zwaan that his case matters. In a second meeting with prosecutors, he admitted his lies.
"This widely publicized prosecution, as well as its collateral consequences, sends a strong message to anyone who considers lying to federal investigators", the sentencing memorandum from van der Zwaan says. Van der Zwaan is the son-in-law of German Khan, a Russian bank owner who is suing BuzzFeed News over the publication of an unverified dossier of information concerning President Donald Trump.
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