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Manafort bets on presidential pardon in special counsel case

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The FBI has found that a business associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, including during the 2016 campaign when Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, were in touch with the associate, according to new court filings.

But the fact that Dowd (reportedly) tried to assure both Flynn and Manafort that they would be able to avoid prison time - even if they didn't cooperate with Mueller - suggests that they might know things that Trump does not wish the special counsel to learn.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agents assisting the Special Counsel's Office assess that Person A has ties to Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016.

The news comes as Mueller's ongoing investigation is reportedly turning towards the President's finances; focusing on the Trump Organization's worldwide business dealings and assets. Gates admitted that while he worked for the firm Davis Manafort Inc.

The connection between Gates and the former intelligence officer, identified only as "Person A" in the records filed late on Tuesday, is significant because criminal charges brought against Gates and Manafort relate only to their lobbying work for Ukraine prior to the 2016 USA presidential election and do not delve into their activities during the campaign. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his interactions with Gates and the former intelligence officer and is to be sentenced on April 3.

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For those keeping score, van der Zwaan is the son-in-law of a Russian oligarch, German Khan, one of the owners of Alfa Bank, and had extensive dealings with Manafort on his earlier work for the Yanukovych regime in Ukraine.

The report cited "three people with knowledge of the talks". "Period", he stated. "As far as I know, no discussions". Kelner and a spokesman for Manafort also were not immediately available.

Mueller described those calls - and van der Zwaan's subsequent misstatements to investigators about them - as "material to the special counsel's office".

Deripaska has since filed a civil lawsuit in NY state court against Gates and Manafort that accuses them of defrauding him out of an investment deal.

While these allegations are still unconfirmed, the president has openly discussed potential pardons for former aides under investigation in the Russian Federation probe, according to two people with knowledge of the interviews who spoke with the Times. Mr. Manafort served as the campaign chairman until August 2016, when he resigned amid the growing controversy about secret payments he had received for his lobbying in Ukraine.

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