Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed court documents last week that raised new questions about contacts between various Trump associates and Russia. The memo Mueller submitted related to the then-impending sentencing of Alex van der Zwaan, who is a London attorney and Dutch citizen.
Van der Zwaan pleaded guilty to lying to Mueller’s team in November 2017. He admitted that he misled Mueller’s investigators about his contacts (during the fall of 2016) Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, Rick Gates, and a Ukrainian business associate working with Gates and Manafort. This business associate had been previously identified in court documents as “Person A.”
Last month, Mother Jones reported “Person A” matches the description of Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime business partner of Manafort and Gates.
Last week, the New York Times identified Person A as Kilimnik. The source is reportedly a “person with knowledge of the matter.”
But the court filing in van der Zwaan’s case included major disclosures about so-called “Person A.” Prosecutors previously asserted that he had ties to a Russian intelligence service of some sort. The new filing states that he actually retained these ties in 2016 and further alleges that Gates was well aware of his associate’s intelligence background.
Rick Gates himself, according to van der Zwaan’s sentencing memo, told Alex van der Zwaan that “Person A” was a former intelligence officer with the Russian military intelligence agency: GRU.
Notably, in 2016, Manafort and Kilimnik exchanged a series of cryptic emails, which have since been turned over to investigators. The emails appear to regard a substantial debt that Manafort owed to Russian aluminum tycoon, Oleg Deripaska.
Notably, Paul Manafort asked Kilimnik if Mr. Deripaska was aware of on his work for Trump. “How do we use to get whole?” Manafort asked. This invites suspicion that Manafort hoped to somehow settle his financial dispute by leveraging his position and/or access to Donald Trump. The possible repercussions for that are… pretty dire.
Per Mother Jones:
It’s unclear whether Kilimnik conveyed any information from their meeting back to Deripaska, who has denied having any contact with Kilimnik. But three days after the meeting, Deripaska met on his yacht, off the coast of Norway, with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Prikhodko, a top foreign policy official for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Also on board was a Russian model and escort named Nastya Rybka.
The Deripaska-Prikhodko meeting was recently revealed in a video by Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny, who relied on Rybka’s autobiography and Instagram posts. Rybka, who claims to be Deripaska’s former mistress, posted video and audio that show her, Deripaska, and Prikhodko on a yacht while the two men audibly discuss US-Russia relations.
Drawing on flight logs, yacht-docking records, photos from Rybka’s Instagram account, and other evidence, Navalny suggests that Prikhodko spent several days on the yacht with Deripaska and Rybka in August 2016. Citing US reports on Manafort’s offer to brief Deripaska, Navalny argues that Deripaska used Prikhodko to pass messages he received from Manafort via Kilimnik on to Putin.
In an odd twist, Rybka was arrested on February 26, along with nine other Russians, in Pattaya, Thailand, and charged with running “sex training” sessions without a license to work. Since then, she has issued pleas to US government officials and journalists offering to provide information on Trump and Russia in exchange for help securing her release.
“I’m ready to give you all the missing puzzle pieces, support them with videos and audios, regarding the connections of our respected lawmakers with Trump, Manafort and the rest,” she says in a video she made on her way to prison. “I know a lot.”
So what exactly does Ms. Rybka know, and is Robert Mueller working with Thai officials to gain access to her.