Collusion craze: Mueller memo says Trump aide contacted 'assessed' Russian spy

In it, prosecutors said that Gates and van der Zwaan were in touch with the ex-Russian intelligence officer, who also worked for Manafort's lobbying firm in Ukraine, in September and October 2016.

The court document says Gates had frequent phone calls in September and October 2016 - weeks before the November election - with the Russian man, who the document says the Federal Bureau of Investigation believes had active links to Russian spy services at the time.

Had Trump-Russia believers read Mueller's memo more carefully, they might have noticed it specifically states that the conversations between "Person A", van der Zwaan and Gates "concerned potential criminal charges in Ukraine" about a report concerning the corruption trial of a former government official and the compensation Gates and Manafort were paid for their lobbying work, rather than anything pertaining to the Trump campaign or the U.S. presidential election.

Van der Zwaan previously pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his contacts with Gates during work for the pro-Russian government of Ukraine, which was ousted in 2014.

These new details were revealed in a court filing about the upcoming sentencing of Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer who worked with Gates and Manafort.

Manafort is attempting to dismiss charges against him by challenging Mueller's appointment.

The New York Times reported that Kilimnik, who maintains residences in both Moscow and Kyiv, was born in Ukraine when it was still part of the Soviet Union, and he served in the Russian Army as a linguist. In the RFE interview, however, the dual citizen of Russian Federation and Ukraine denied any connections to intelligence agencies.

Both Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were indicted earlier this year on numerous charges of money laundering and financial crimes which they allegedly committed while attempting to hide extensive Ukrainian funds.

The Russian government has denied meddling in the 2016 election and Trump has denied any collusion by his campaign.

Gates pleaded guilty to lying to investigators last month, and is believed to be working with the probe as it goes after his former partner and others. However, Kilimnik's involvement with Manafort and Gates was known since at least early 2017, when he gave an interview to Radio Free Europe, an outlet funded by the U.S. government. Manafort, however, can not be pardoned for state crimes he faces in Virginia - charges which he is now attempting to have dismissed, ABC reports. Three sources familiar with the discussions revealed that the legal team was anxious about the information that Manafort and Flynn would reveal if they were to cut a deal with the special counsel.

In a court filing late Tuesday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation appeared to draw the closest connection yet between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation. While more ties between the Russians and Trump's campaign are revealed, one question is still in the minds of the American people: "What did the President know, and when did he know it?"

  • Jacqueline Ellis