April 20, 2018

Judge Hands Down First Sentence in Mueller's Russia Investigation

04 April 2018, 01:10 | Marta Robbins

Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed by Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

AN OCT. 28 2013 FILE

Alex van der Zwaan - an associate of former Trump campaign deputy chairman Rick Gates - was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days in prison and ordered to pay a $20,000 fine for lying to investigators in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe, according to multiple reports.

Van der Zwaan, who lives in London, was sentenced to 30 days in prison after pleading guilty to lying to investigators about his contact with former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates.

Gates and Manafort were indicted by Mueller in October on a series of money laundering and fraud charges related to their Ukraine work. "Person A" is thought to be Konstantin Kilimnik, a Ukrainian with ties to Russian intelligence who worked for Manafort. Manafort was President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman.

He's the first person charged in Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russian Federation to be punished by a court.

The judge said van der Zwaan, unlike some defendants who have come before her, possesses the financial and emotional resources to weather hard times.

Gates, 45, who was deputy campaign manager for Trump and worked with Manafort in Ukraine, pleaded guilty February 23 to conspiracy and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a cooperation deal with Mueller's probe.

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Van der Zwaan turned over secret recordings to Mueller's investigators that he had made of his conversations with Gates, the associate, and a senior partner at his law firm. He resigned in August 2016 amid news reports about his activities in Ukraine. Prosecutors said the communication "was pertinent to the investigation". Gates is now cooperating with Mueller.

Mueller is probing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and alleged ties between Team Trump and Vladimir Putin's regime in Moscow. Prosecutors released the memo just before midnight on Monday, arguing that Manafort can't legally challenge his indictment for financial crimes arising from his work for Yanukovych and other Russian-backed politicians.

In a court filing on Monday, prosecutor Andrew Weissman said Van Der Zwaan, the son-in-law of a Russian oligarch, is in "an unusual position of having information related" to the Russia probe that "is not widely known - including information that he knows first-hand due to his role in the conduct the Office is investigating". Any investigation of links between Russia and the Trump campaign "would naturally cover ties that a former Trump campaign manager had to Russian-associated political operatives, Russian-backed politicians, and Russian oligarchs", according to the 53-page filing in federal court in Washington.

Van der Zwaan's apology and his lawyer's explanations for his client's actions appeared to ring hollow for the judge. It came not long after the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided Manafort's Alexandria, Virginia, condominium and served him a search warrant in late July.

Trump has denied "collusion" between his campaign and the Kremlin and has repeatedly called the investigation a "witch hunt".

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