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Tag: rick gates

Mueller Confirms Manafort Raid Targeted Records on Trump Tower Meeting, Russian Oligarch

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

When FBI agents raided the home of Paul Manafort, the former head of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, last summer, a judge signed off on seizing records related to a previously undisclosed meeting between the campaign and Russian lobbyists at the Trump Tower in June 2016.

Agents walked out with tens of thousands of records, including documents related to a civil lawsuit over a drawn-out dispute with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, Bloomberg reports.

The scope of the search was revealed Monday in a court filing by Robert Mueller’s special counsel team that is investigating possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

The disclosure is significant because it means Mueller is focusing on a potential collusion case against members of Trump’s campaign.

Deripaska, who is believed to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, hired Manafort as a political consultant and invested $18.9 million with Manafort’s cable-television venture. Deripaska, the billionaire founder and majority shareholder of En+ Group, also paid Manafort $7.35 million in management fees.

When the deal went sour, Deripaska sued.

Deripaska was among the Russians penalized with sanctions last month by the Trump administration.

Manafort, who faces trial on numerous charges related to conspiracy and fraud in connection with his business relationship with pro-Russia, Ukrainian officials. Manafort has pleaded not guilty, while his longtime business partner has agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation as part of a leniency deal in exchange for pleading guilty to some charges.

Memo Reveals Scope of Mueller’s Investigation Against Trump’s ex-Campaign manager Manafort

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special Counsel Robert Mueller was explicitly authorized by the Justice Department to investigate allegations that President Trump’s former campaign manager colluded with Russia to undermine the 2016 presidential election, according to a newly revealed memo.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave Mueller the green light in a classified, Aug. 2 memo that was included in a court filing Monday aimed at defending the special counsel’s scope of the probe, which so far has netted indictments against 19 people and three Russian companies. 

The memo authorized Mueller to look into allegations that the former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, worked with the Kremlin to meddle in the election “in violation of United States law.” The memo authorized Mueller to look into “a crime or crimes arising out of payments [Manafort] received from the Ukrainian government before and during the tenure of President Viktor Yanukovych.”

Manafort and his business partner, another former Trump campaign aide, were first indicted in October with money-laundering and other charges related to work they did for a pro-Russian political party in the Ukraine. They were charged with additional crimes earlier this year, and Gates has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors.

Dutch Attorney to Become First Person Sentenced in Russia Probe

Special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A Dutch attorney accused of lying to federal law enforcement about his work with two indicted, former leaders of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is expected to become the first person today to be sentenced as part of the 11-month-old special counsel investigation led by former FBI director Robert Mueller.

Alex van der Zwaan, who pleaded guilty to lying to prosecutors and the FBI about the Russia probe, faces an estimated zero to six months in jail, according to sentencing guidelines.

Mueller’s team plans to urge a judge to impose jail time. But prosecutors didn’t indicate how much time van der Zwaan should be sent to jail, but the attorney is asking for no time behind bars because his wife, who lives in London, is pregnant and due to deliver their child in August.

“To the extent the Court seeks to take into account the circumstances of van der Zwaan’s wife’s pregnancy, consideration of that circumstance would not preclude a term of incarceration,” the special counsel’s office wrote. “In any event, a sentence that ensured van der Zwaan’s return to the United Kingdom for the birth of his child in August 2018 would be within the recommended Guidelines’ range.”

Van der Zwaan admitted he lied to prosecutors and the FBI about work he did with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his former business partner, Rick Gates, who also played a key role in the president’s campaign.

Four others who have pleaded guilty so far – including former Trump campaign deputy chairman Rick Gates, Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos. But their sentencing hearings have been placed on hold while they cooperate with Mueller’s team.

Feds Reveal Alleged Direct Link Between Trump Campaign & Russia

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation now has what appears to be a direct link between Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.

Former campaign aide Rick Gates, who has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with Mueller’s team, was “directly communicating” in the final months of the presidential election in 2016 with a person who the FBI believes has ties to Russian intelligence, the USA Today reports.

The contacts were revealed in court documents in the upcoming sentencing of Alex van der Zwaan, a London attorney who had pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with Gates and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is expected to face trial this fall on numerous fraud, conspiracy and tax charges.

Prosectors allege van der Zwaan knew about the contacts with “Person A,” who appears to be a former Ukraine-based aide who had worked with Gates and Manafort and has close ties to Russian intelligence.

“Gates told him ‘Person A’ was a former Russian intelligence officer with the GRU (the intelligence arm of the Russian military),” the court documents state.

The White House did not respond to direct questions about the latest revelations but offered a blanket denial of wrongdoing.

“There was no collusion and we’re confident in that,” White House spokeswoman Sanders said.

Trump’s Ex-Campaign Chairman Manafort Faces Sept. 17 Trial After Pleading Not Guilty

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is facing the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison on numerous charges related to his business dealing in eastern Europe, pleaded not guilty in federal court Wednesday and is scheduled for a trial beginning Sept. 17.

Unless Manafort strikes a deal with prosecutors, the former high-paid political consultant is expected to face the first trial to emerge from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

Manafort’s longtime business partner, Rick Gates, is among three former Trump aides who have pleaded guilty to assortment of charges and have agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team of prosecutors. Gates, who also served on Trump’s campaign, is expected to provide information about crimes he said he and Manafort committed as business partners.

Gates and Manafort were both charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, tax fraud and money laundering stemming from lobbying and consulting work related to Ukrainian politicians who are strong allies of Russia.

Because of his age, Manafort could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted.

On Friday, Gates pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conceal tens of millions of dollars while working with Manafort.

The indictments do not mention work they did for Trump’s campaign, but Gates and Manafort played a prominent role in the campaign and have drawn suspicion because of their ties with pro-Russian factions in eastern Europe.

Last week, the men’s Russian-connected attorney Alex Van der Zwaan was charged with misleading the FBI about work he did for Manafort and Gates. 

About two weeks ago, 13 Russians were charged in a sweeping indictment alleging they waged a propaganda campaign to help Trump get elected. 

The other former Trump associates who have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors are Trump’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn and ex-campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.

In March 2017, Mueller was appointed to investigate Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election. Since then, the former FBI director has broadened the scope of the probe to include Trump’s business dealings http://ticklethewire.com/2018/02/28/special-counsels-probe-focuses-trumps-business-ties-prior-presidential-run/ and his firing of then-FBI Director James Comey.

Trump, who suggested Russian election meddling was “a hoax” peddled by the “fake media,” claims the special counsel probe is a “witch hunt” by the upper ranks of the FBI and Justice Department to bring him down.

His attorneys are trying to find a legal argument to prevent Trump from being interviewed by Mueller because they fear he will lie and commit perjury.

Prominent Trump Campaign Aides Charged Again by Special Counsel Mueller

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his longtime business associate Rick Gates are facing potentially steeper prison sentences after a grand jury on Thursday unveiled a 32-count indictment alleging numerous tax and bank fraud charges.

The 32-count indictment comes on top of fraud and money-laundering charges filed in October against Manafort and Gates, both of whom played a prominent role in Trump’s campaign and were the first charged as part of Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference.

In the latest charges, the longtime political consultants are accused of a multiyear scheme to evade taxes and commit bank fraud using money they acquired from a  pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.

The indictment does not mention work they did for Trump’s campaign.

The charges come just two days after Alex Van der Zwaan, a prominent, Russian-connected attorney, was charged with misleading the FBI about work he did for Manafort and Gates. 

Gates, who has gone through several different lawyers, was expected to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors as part of a deal for leniency, but it’s unclear whether he plans to still work with Mueller’s team.

Russia Probe: Attorney Pleads Guilty to Lying to FBI about Trump Campaign Aide

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A prominent, Russian-connected attorney pleaded guilty Tuesday to misleading the FBI about his work with President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, marking the third conviction so far in the special counsel investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Alex Van der Zwaan is accused of lying to federal investigators about communications he had with Rick Gates, a longtime business partner of Manafort and a former Trump campaign aide.

Prosecutors say Van der Zwaan made false statements about his work for a law firm accused of whitewashing abuses by the pro-Russian, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is accused of an $18 million money laundering scheme involving Manafort.

The scheme is part of the criminal case against Manafort and Gates, who were both indicted in October on 12 counts involving money laundering, conspiracy against the U.S. and tax fraud. They pleaded not guilty.

Van der Zwaan, the son-in-law of Russian oligarch German Khan, worked in London for the prominent New York law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

After pleading guilty, he admitted to lying to investigators about past communications with Gates and someone identified as “Personal A.”

The case centered around Van der Zwaan’s work for Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice, which hired him to put together a report about the trial of Tymoshenko.

BuzzFeed News reported Monday that Tymoshenko was the focus of an FBI investigation as part of a failed operation to tackle international kleptocracy in 2014 and 2015. During the probe, investigators identified $40 million in “suspicious transactions” to and from Manafort’s companies. 

But the under-resourced task force dropped the investigation and never charged Manafort or Tymoshenko, according to current and former law enforcement officials who worked on the case.

Gates is expected to plead guilty as early as this week to money laundering as part of a deal with prosecutors to testify against Manafort, who continues to maintain his innocence.

Former Trump Aide Gates to Testify Against Manafort in Forthcoming Plea Deal

Special counsel Robert Mueller

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates will plead guilty to charges related to fraud in exchange for testifying against his longtime business partner, Paul Manafort, in the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election.

Gates and Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign manager, were indicted in October on 12 counts involving money laundering, conspiracy against the U.S. and tax fraud. They pleaded not guilty.

Gates is expected to change his plea to guilty and will likely serve 18 months in prison in exchange for his cooperation, the Los Angeles Times reports

The special counsel probe so far has turned two defendants – former national security adviser Michael Flynn and foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos – into cooperating witnesses.

The charges against Gates and Manafort stem from work they did with Ukrainian politicians who are allies with Russia. They are accused of laundering tens of millions of dollars from the work through U.S. and foreign companies and bank accounts.

Manafort, who is under house arrest and faces up to 15 years in prison, has pledged to fight the charges and even sued Mueller and the Justice Department, claiming the special counsel probe overreached its authority.

It’s not yet clear what information Gates is offering to prosecutors.

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