Investigators told Gates they wanted his cooperation over possible collusion: report
Investigators on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team reportedly told former Trump campaign deputy Richard Gates last year that they did not need his cooperation against his longtime business partner Paul Manafort, but instead on the campaign’s potential contacts with Russia.
CNN reported Thursday that investigators told Gates during plea deal negotiations last year that they were more interested in hearing what he knew about the campaign’s communications with the Russians than in information about Manafort.
Court documents filed by prosecutors this week appeared to offer a glimpse into how investigators planned to use Gates’s cooperation in their probe to link Manafort to Russian intelligence.
Those documents, filed in the case of London-based attorney Alex van der Zwaan, allege that Gates had been in contact with an unidentified individual believed by the FBI to have ties to a Russian intelligence agency in the months before the 2016 presidential election.
That individual, identified in court documents only as “Person A,” is described as a business associate of Manafort. The Washington Post reported this week that the individual matches the description of Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime Russian employee of Manafort.
That Mueller’s investigators told Gates that they needed his help in examining the Trump campaign’s potential contacts with the Russians gets to the center of the special counsel probe, which began as an examination of possible collusion between the campaign and Moscow.
Prosecutors filed charges against Manafort and Gates in October for money laundering, tax evasion and fraud, among other crimes. Gates pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy and lying to FBI agents. He is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.
Manafort, however, has pleaded not guilty, and has insisted that he has done nothing wrong.
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