Mueller Snags Washington Attorney For Lying To Investigators

The Russia probe charges Alex Van Der Zwaan made false statements about past communications with former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates.

Robert Mueller has filed charges against a Washington lawyer who stands accused of lying to investigators regarding work he performed for Paul Manafort and Rick Gates in connection with their business dealings in Ukraine:

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team on Tuesday announced the latest target in his sprawling probe into Russian election interference, saying attorney Alex Van Der Zwaan made false statements about past communications with former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates.

Gates faces criminal charges from Mueller over his lobbying work in Ukraine. Mueller said Van Der Zwaan, who worked for a law firm that did work in Ukraine in 2012, made false statements to authorities about communications in 2016 with Gates and an unnamed person.

There was no immediate sign that the charge directly relates to Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidental election, or to the campaign of President Donald Trump.

Van Der Zwaan is expected to appear in federal court in Washington Tuesday afternoon to offer a guilty plea to the charge.

Van Der Zwaan is a former associate in the London office of the New York-based law firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. He appears to have been part of a group of Skadden that prepared a Ukrainian-government report on the trial of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

The report sought to exonerate Yanukovych for jailing Tymoshenko, his main political opponent. The report, which Ukraine’s Justice Ministry claimed at the time was “independent,” explored claims that Tymoshenko’s trial and conviction in 2011 was instigated for political reasons and replete with legal violations. Skadden found that though there were discrepancies in her prosecution, the verdict against Tymoshenko was fair.

The expected guilty plea could be an attempt by Van Der Zwaan to avoid more serious charges. The details of the charge filed in federal court Friday and released Tuesday morning says the former Skadden attorney “deleted and did not otherwise produce emails sought by the Special Counsel’s Office” and by the unnamed firm. The language suggests Van Der Zwaan may have concelaed or lied to the firm, as well as investigators.

Van Der Zwann does not appear to have any connection to the Trump campaign or the work that Manafort and Gates did for Trump. Instead, this appears to be yet another effort by Mueller to tighten the screws on Manafort, perhaps in an effort to force him into plea discussions that could yield information that could play a role in other parts of the investigation.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. James in Bremerton says:

    Nope. Never heard of this dude, either. He joins a multitude of unknowns, many of whom were likely wired. The GOP panic arises from not knowing who, or when. Given the pardon-happy dementia patient posing as “president,” Mueller is establishing brutal facts of conspiracy first. Person A is Manafort. Alfa Bank is the same as organized crime.

    Hereafter, anyone who met with Russians or took their money to finance their businesses is in for serious questioning against recordings Mueller already has, and likely existed before he was hired.

    For those wanting to “but Hillary!” your way out of this, once Mueller was hired, it became an issue of law enforcement that is going to see many people go to jail, well beyond what Watergate produced.

  2. JohnMcC says:

    Couple of delicious teasers came with this. Mr Van Der Swann is married to the daughter of a Russian Oligarch. There is a mystery person who Mr V D Swann is specifically noted to have had a conversation with about that mystery person’s own family. Why is that in there? Who has family members that could reasonably take up time in a (presumably) business conversation?

  3. reid says:

    The law firm sounds like something invented by the inimitable Don Martin of Mad fame: “Florp, Veebleburp, Thwack, and Smith”.

    Just lightening the mood, I have nothing serious to add.

  4. JKB says:

    So charges against a Dutch lawyer who worked for a 1700 attorney NY law firm in London for statements made to US investigators about his work in 2012 for the Ukrainian government. Oh, and his father-in-law is a Russian rich guy.

    Interesting Ukraine comes up. It has been speculated that the indicted Russian interference wasn’t a pro-Trump operation but rather an anti-Hillary operation as payback for her and Obama’s interference in the Russian/Ukraine election. The REI moved to support whichever candidate was the favored opponent to Hillary at the moment. In the general election, that was Trump.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    Do I even need to point out that you’re peddling bullsh!t? The Russians attacked Rubio and Cruz, both more likely to beat Hillary in the general election. Didn’t Hannity tell you?

  6. michael reynolds says:

    The squeeze is on Manafort but he’ll be tough to break: he’s got more to worry about than prison. This man is in business with the Russian mob, almost certainly owes them a whole bunch of money, and will be of no value to them going forward. He’s nothing but risk to Putin. There may already be a contract out on Manafort, Putin isn’t subtle when it comes to overseas murder.

    However this plays out, Manafort is going to need a food taster and some incorruptible security men. He may even need witness protection. His life is over but he’s too much of an entitled twat to realize it, no doubts still thinks Trump will save him. But even a federal pardon won’t stop New York State locking him up, and once he’s inside, out comes the shiv.

  7. JKB says:

    @michael reynolds:

    See paragraph 43, of the copy of the indictment Doug included in his post about the first Russian indictments.

  8. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    If I’m not mistaken…this guy is the son-in-law of an Oligarch named in the Pee-Pee Dossier.
    There’s your connection.