From the Washington Post:

First, let’s note the reasons for caution about this story. As Paul Rosenzweig, who was special counsel during Ken Starr’s investigation of Bill Clinton, pointed out to me today, we don’t yet know how deep this associate’s “ties” to Russian intelligence remained at that point. And we don’t know what the discussions about the stolen emails really amounted to. It’s perfectly possible they were merely talking about something that was in the news. A Manafort spokesman has claimed this to be the case, adding that eventually it will be shown that no “conspiracy” was being discussed.

But Rosenzweig also said that these new revelations do raise some important possibilities. First, they suggest that Manafort — who was Trump’s campaign chair deep into August 2016 — likely knew his associate had connections to Russian intelligence, since if Gates knew, Manafort also probably knew. “At a minimum that says something about his willingness to work with people who have ties to Russian intelligence agencies,” Rosenzweig said. “That raises the question of whether Manafort was a conduit of Russian influence on the campaign,” though he may have been an “unwitting dupe” in this regard.

Second, and perhaps more important, Mueller may have put this information in the filing in part to increase the pressure on Manafort. Mueller’s investigators are “showing Manafort some of their cards as a way to increase the pressure on him to cooperate,” Rosenzweig says.

Indeed, Politico recently reported that people around Trump are deeply worried about what Gates can tell Mueller, because that might end up inducing Manafort to conclude that his legal jeopardy is so severe that he should flip. Gates can perhaps tell Mueller what Manafort knew at the time about the associate’s ties to Russian intelligence.

Finally, putting this information in the filing might end up protecting the Mueller probe itself. “Mueller’s biggest strategic risk is being fired,” Rosenzweig said. “The more they put Russia into the equation, the harder it is for Trump to fire him.”

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