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.