Trump's legal hope: Lawyer with doctorate in medieval history

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Last year, as scrutiny mounted of his work with Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates in Ukraine, he steadfastly denied any association with Russian intelligence.

Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer who worked in London for NY law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, pleaded guilty last month to lying to special counsel Robert Mueller's team about his contacts with Gates shortly before the presidential election. Despite the fact that Gates and Manafort knew that this business associate had ties to the Kremlin, they still chose to form a working relationship with the associate during October of 2016, mere weeks before the election. Last month, Mr. Gates pleaded guilty to financial fraud and lying to investigators and has agreed to cooperate with Mr. Mueller's investigation.

The sentencing memorandum does not say that the alleged connections to someone with ties to Russian intelligence include any links to the Trump campaign.

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.

A source familiar with the conversations tells ABC News "Person A" is Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime business employee of Manafort's, who focused mainly on relationships with global power brokers and government liaisons including in both Ukraine and Russian Federation.

Van der Zwaan will be the first person to face sentencing in Mueller's probe, CNN noted. 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 33-year-old lawyer's legal team said in sentencing documents Tuesday that his "world has collapsed as a result of his decision to lie to law enforcement" and that he did not need to serve prison time. That Gates and Person A were directly communicating in September and October 2016 was pertinent to the investigation.

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Alex van der Zwaan arrives at a plea agreement hearing at the D.C. federal courthouse in Washington, Feb. 20, 2018.

Van der Zwaan is married to the daughter of German Khan, a director and co-owner of Alfa Bank.

Van Der Zwaan admitted to one charge of lying to investigators about his interaction with Gates.

Filing shows prosecutors believe a top Trump official remained in contact with a Russian intelligence-linked operative well into campaign.

Van der Zwaan's criminal charge has no apparent connection to the Trump campaign aside from his contact with then-campaign aide Gates in 2016.

According to the memorandum, both Manafort and Gates "had been indicted just days" before van der Zwaan lied to the special counsel-despite having been "expressly warned by the government that it is a crime to lie to the Special Counsel's Office".

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