Rick Gates associate is the first to be sentenced in Mueller probe

04 April, 2018, 01:50 | Author: Nina Hammond
  • Blind Justice

"I apologize to the court, my wife, and my family".

Since his return in December, Schwartz said, van der Zwaan has been walled up in a residential hotel in Washington and unable to return to London, where his wife is undergoing a hard first pregnancy.

Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch citizen who was educated in London, was sentenced to 30 days in prison and $20,000 in fines for lying to federal agents.

After his lies were called out, van der Zwaan gave investigators recordings of his conversations with Gates, "Person A" and a senior Skadden partner.

Van der Zwaan admitted lying and withholding documents about information prosecutors said was "pertinent" to their investigation: that Gates had been in direct contact during Trump's presidential run with the Manafort associate, identified in court documents as "Person A", an individual who "has ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016".

In 2016, after Manafort became chairman of Trump's election campaign and took Rick Gates as his deputy, van der Zwaan and Gates both had communications with a person they knew as a former official of Russia's GRU intelligence agency, prosecutors said.

While Van der Zwaan's lawyers hoped to settle the case with a fine and an immediate expulsion from the US, District Judge Amy Burman deemed the incarceration more fitting so as to deter others from lying in investigations of such importance.

"Van der Zwaan was charged by Mueller's team with making false statements to investigators in an interview about his time working for a law firm hired by the Ukraine Ministry of Justice in 2012, when he helped produce a report on the trail of Ukrainian politician Yulia Tymoshenko", writes Fox.

"I apologize to the court for my conduct", van der Zwaan said, according to reports.

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His lawyer, William Schwartz, asserted that van der Zwann worked to correct the record with the special counsel because he realized that he had made a "terrible mistake". "It was more than a lapse or misguided moment", Jackson said. Five people have pleaded guilty to various charges Mueller has brought, three of whom have direct ties to the Trump campaign.

It marked the first sentencing of anyone in Mr Mueller's ongoing probe.

Mueller has secured two indictments against Manafort arising from his lobbying for the pro-Russian Ukrainian Party of Regions, with charges ranging from failing to register as a foreign agent and conspiring to launder money, to bank fraud and filing false tax returns. Manafort has pleaded not guilty.

The White House has denied any discussion of terminating Mueller.

Jackson said she recognized that van der Zwaan has been away from his family for months, but the defense's attempts to paint him as a tragic figure didn't ring true.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein explicitly authorized the Justice Department's special counsel to investigate allegations that President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman colluded with the Russian government, according to a court filing late Monday night.

Jackson urged him not to despair.

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