A campaign aide toDonald Trump directly communicated a month before the 2016 presidential election with a man he knew was a onetime Russian spy, according to a court filing by Special CounselRobert Mueller. In a statement to the Times, Dowd denied the report. In the sentencing memorandum filed late Tuesday, Muller said the lawyer was "expressly warned by the government that it is a crime to lie to the Special Counsel's Office, that lying could constitute a federal crime, and that such conduct would carry with it the possibility of going to jail if he were convicted. van der Zwaan stated that he understood".
The newspaper, citing three anonymous people with knowledge of the discussions, says that then-Trump attorney, John Dowd, raised the idea with attorneys for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Legal experts were split on whether such a discussion would amount to obstruction of justice, even if Dowd broached the idea with Trump before talking to lawyers for Manafort and Flynn - a point that the New York Times said remained unclear.
However, he added that Dowd represented Trump in his personal capacity, as opposed to Cobb, who represents the White House.
Manafort and Flynn were closely linked to Trump during the campaign and in the White House, respectively. During his first interview with the Special Counsel's Office, van der Zwaan admitted that he knew of that connection, stating that Gates told him Person A was a former Russian Intelligence Officer with GRU. He said that Person A made him aware that charges could be forthcoming against them in Ukraine over their report on Tymoshenko.
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