Mueller OK'd to probe Manafort-Russia collusion allegations


A federal judge has sentenced a Dutch lawyer to 30 days in prison and a $20,000 fine for lying to the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The first sentence in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation has dropped, and it's ... kind of a snoozer.

In February, Mueller announced that van der Zwaan, the son-in-law of a Ukrainian-Russian oligarch, had lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In the early 2010s, Van der Zwaan was working in the London office of Skadden Arps, one of the world's largest and most powerful corporate law firms.

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.

Van Der Zwaan was questioned by the DoJ in November about his work as an attorney for the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice, and about his connections to Manafort and Gates, who previously served as lobbyists in Ukraine on behalf of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions. Van Der Zwaan deleted and failed to produce emails sought by the special counsel and a law firm, prosecutors said.

Van der Zwaan, an attorney who formerly worked at the high-powered law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, pleaded guilty in February of lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his communications with Rick Gates, a top aide to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

He looked the judge in the eye and said, "What I did was wrong".

That's why van der Zwann turned over evidence in December 2017, Schwartz said, and didn't toss it into the river near his onetime office in London.

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While van der Zwaan does not appear to be a major figure in Mueller's probe, his sentencing indicates the special counsel will deal sternly with witnesses who lie to his investigators, with serious criminal consequences, as he scrutinizes the conduct of Trump and others.

Van der Zwaan and Gates are two of the four men who have pleaded guilty to charges brought by Mueller.

His wedding to art critic Eva Khan featured in Russian Tatler magazine a year ago.

Van der Zwaan's story is convoluted, and involves a Ukrainian internal political dispute from a decade ago. In addition to authorizing the Russian Federation collusion investigation of Manafort, Rosenstein also specifically authorized Mueller to investigate any crimes related to payments Manafort received from the Ukrainian government during the tenure of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Yanukovych was in the midst of a power struggle with another prominent Ukrainian politician, Yulia V. Tymoshenko, which he made a decision to solve by jailing her in the fall of 2011.

"In or about September 2016, he spoke with both Gates and Person A regarding the Report, and surreptitiously recorded the call", the indictment says. He had asked the judge for leniency hoping to avoid jail time because his wife is pregnant with their first child.

"The reason why he's going to jail [is] he lied about the communications he had with Rick Gates and another business partner of Paul Manafort in Ukraine as part of the investigation", Rattansi said.

The report prepared by Skadden was used to defend Ukraine's then pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych from global criticism over the jailing of Ms Tymoshenko, a bitter rival who he defeated to become president in 2010.