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Dutch Lawyer Convicted as Part of Mueller Investigation

04 April 2018

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Dutch attorney who lied to federal agents investigating former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been sentenced to 30 days in prison.

Van der Zwaan's communications with Gates and a person with Russian intelligence ties became important to the special counsel's broader investigation, as it pursues crimes related to Russian interference in the 2016 election, Mueller's team has said.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson also ordered van der Zwaan to pay a $20,000 fine and serve two months of supervised release. But Mueller's team has not previously identified Manafort, who was intimately involved in the campaign's operation for five key months, as a specific target of that investigation.

"This was more than a mistake".

Van der Zwaan, 33, is married to the daughter of prominent Russian billionaire German Khan, founder of the privately owned Alfa Bank.

Back in February, van der Zwaan pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his conversations with former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates.

Van der Zwaan also deleted emails rather than turning them over to authorities, including one from Person A directing him to communicate using an encrypted application, and others showing he explored leaving the law firm to work directly for Gates and Manafort in about 2012 and 2013.

The term is the first sentence handed down in the special counsel's investigation.

Who is Alex van der Zwaan?

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During a 40-minute hearing Tuesday, van der Zwaan made only a brief statement, telling Jackson, "Your Honor, what I did was wrong".

During interviews with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, van der Zwaan told the feds that he last spoke to Gates in August 2016, but it was later revealed that he spoke to Gates in September 2016. Van der Zwaan also fibbed when he said he didn't know why the firm didn't give Mueller an email exchanged between him and the unidentified person.

Since his return in December 2017, Mr 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, his lawyer said.

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

"We count on people to tell us the truth".

Van der Zwaan has since been fired by the firm, it says it is cooperating with investigators.

Manafort, 68, has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, money laundering, and tax and bank fraud charges related to his lobbying work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine and former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. Mr Manafort has pleaded not guilty. Among them are a former White House national security adviser and a Trump campaign foreign policy aide. 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. But the defense's attempts to paint him as a tragic figure didn't ring true, she said.

Jackson urged him not to despair.

"It is a message that needs to be sent, particularly because you are an attorney", she said.

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Dutch Lawyer Convicted as Part of Mueller Investigation