Dutch attorney in Mueller investigation gets 30 days in prison

Wednesday, 04 Apr, 2018

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Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who used to work closely with Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, is the first person sentenced in connection with the Mueller investigation into Russian Federation, the Trump campaign, and the 2016 election. He earned a light sentence based on his co-operation with Mueller's probe, which is focused on whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. This, according to the indictment, was a lie - van der Zwaan was actually secretly communicating with Gates and Person A about the Skadden report.

"This was more than a mistake".

Van der Zwaan is a London-based lawyer who formerly worked at global law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. "Person A" is thought to be Konstantin Kilimnik, a Ukrainian with ties to Russian intelligence who worked for Manafort.

Van der Zwaan is the first person to receive punishment in relation to the probe into alleged dealings between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation during the 2016 election.

The judge added that she was disappointed he did not write a letter to the court on his own behalf to express remorse, and said it would not deter others if she merely let him "write a check and walk away".

Appearing in federal court Tuesday, Van der Zwaan told the judge, "What I did was wrong". Judge Jackson said he can leave the country after his 30-day sentence. Attorneys for the defendant had pushed for a sentence of probation, noted that Van der Zwaan's wife is due to give birth in August.

Dutch attorney in Mueller investigation gets 30 days in prison
Dutch attorney in Mueller investigation gets 30 days in prison

"He has been here well over four months without a home, without his wife and without his family", his attorney, William Schwartz, said.

The firm, which is co-operating with the investigation and which fired him past year, worked with former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort and his ex-colleague Mr Gates at a time when they were both political consultants in Ukraine.

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.

This case may be a loud statement by Mueller and his team that obstruction of justice will be handled accordingly, according to NBC News. Manafort has pleaded not guilty.

The charges appear minor, but Mueller has always been insistent that van der Zwaan serve time in jail for his misstatement. Among them are a former White House national security adviser and a Trump campaign foreign policy aide.

Trump has repeatedly denied his campaign colluded with the alleged Russian effort, and has dismissed Mueller's inquiry as a "witch hunt" as speculation has mounted over whether he would terminate it.

Jackson urged him not to despair.