Mueller charges Ukrainian government lawyer for lying about his interactions with Trump campaign official Rick Gates
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has filed charges against lawyer Alex Van der Zwaan, who is expected to plead guilty Tuesday to lying about an interaction with former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, the longtime associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, CNN reports. Van der Zwaan is also accused of willfully failing to turn over an email communication that was requested by the special counsel's office.
Little has been previously reported about van der Zwaan, who is apparently "a London-based, Russian-speaking son-in-law of Russian oligarch German Khan," writes Washington Post legal reporter Spencer Hsu. BuzzFeed News reports that "according to the criminal information filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office ... investigators asked van der Zwaan in November about his work in 2012 for the Ukraine Ministry of Justice preparing a report on the trial on Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister."
Van der Zwaan claimed incorrectly to Mueller's team that his last communication with Gates was an "innocuous text message," the charges say. In fact, van der Zwaan spoke "with both Gates and Person A" in September 2016 about a report on the trial of Tymoshenko.
In November, KyivPost reported that "prosecutors on the case want to question members of the Skadden team who came to Ukraine to work on" the report, which sought to justify the imprisonment of Tymoshenko by former President Viktor Yanukovych. Members of the team cited by KyivPost included "Obama administration officials Gregory Craig and Clifford Sloan, as well as [Alex Van der Zwaan] … who prosecutors say acted as an intermediary for the team on much of the trip." Jeva Lange
Update 9:46 p.m. ET: Alex van der Zwaan pleaded guilty Tuesday to lying to investigators in the Russia probe. NBC News reports it's unclear to what extent he may be cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but an agreement he signed last week states in exchange for his plea, he will not be prosecuted further for false statements he made last November and December. He is set to be sentenced on April 3.