Former Trump Deputy Campaign Manager Rick Gates knowingly had interactions with a former Russian intelligence officer during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to court documents filed Tuesday by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
A sentencing document in the case of Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan—who has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about Gates and an unidentified person, which the Washington Post said likely could be Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate of Gates business partner and former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort—maintained that Gates‘s ongoing contact with the operative "was pertinent to the investigation.” Van der Zwaan is the son-in-law of Russian billionaire German Khan, a founder of Alfa Group.
The FBI's secretive Counterintelligence Division had looked into anomalous behavior from a computer server owned by Alfa Bank, which from May to September 2016 looked up the contact information for a Trump Organization-registered computer server 2,820 times. Internet data shows that 80 percent of all DNS lookup queries for that server, which was located in the rural town of Lititz, Pa., were from Alfa Bank.
FBI special agents helping with the Mueller probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election “assess that Person A has ties to Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016,” according to court documents. “During his first interview with the Special Counsel's Office, van der Zwaan admitted that he knew of that connection, stating that Gates told him Person A was a former Russian Intelligence Officer with GRU.”
After initially pledging to “vigorously defend” himself, Gates in February pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the U.S. and lying to investigators – he has been cooperating with Mueller's team.