Russian Investigation takes a new turn

Dutch lawyer is first person to be sentenced in Mueller probe, gets 30 days in prison

Sahithi Jammulamadaka , Editor-in-Chief

On Tuesday Apr. 3rd, a Dutch lawyer tied to former Trump deputy campaign, chairman Rick Gates, became the first person to be sentenced in Robert Mueller’s investigation when a federal judge sentenced him to 30 days in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Former Skadden Arps(an international law firm based in New York) lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, 33, pleaded guilty in February to lying to FBI agents about his contacts with former Trump campaign official Rick Gates and Konstantin Kilimnik, the latter a suspected Russian intelligence operative who worked closely with Gates and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Attorney for Van der Zwaan pleaded to the District judge, Amy Berman Jackson, to go eschew any prison time and give him a fine so he could return home to his pregnant wife in London, who is due in August. However the judge said that some jail time was appropriate saying, “We’re not talking about a traffic ticket,” she said. “This was lying to a federal officer in the course of a criminal investigation…This was more than a mistake. This was more than a lapse or a misguided moment.” In addition to the 30 day sentence he was issued two months of probation along with a 20,000 dollar fine, she said she would permit him to receive his passport and to go back to London. It’s not completely sure what facility he will be staying at.

van zer Waan’s wealth and family connections were apparent when he was sitting in the courtroom awaiting his sentencing and was accompanied by eight lawyers and his father. He was originally faced with a maximum of five years in prison and a quarter of a million dollar fine.Van der Zwaan covered up his discussions with Gates and a business associate based in Ukraine in September 2016, while the Trump campaign operation was in full swing. After speaking with the special counsel’s office in an interview in November and confronted with the email he had hid, van der Zwaan was subpoenaed by Mueller to appear before a grand jury. A few weeks later, as he re-entered the country, federal authorities confiscated his passport, and he gave them access to his various laptops and cell phones. Van der Zwaan lied to his law firm and to the former White House council Greg Craig. “This is not an isolated incident of simply making one bad decision,” Weissmann (the attorney in charge of prosecuting van der Zwaan.) told the judge Tuesday,”(he) demonstrated a moral compass that was off-kilter.”

Van der Zwaan was the fourth guilty plea in the Mueller investigation after George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn both pleaded guilty to lying to investigators. Rick Gates later took a plea deal agreeing to cooperate and Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty to two federal charges and prosecutors said that they could prove that he had been meddling in the Russian election. Mueller has also indicted 13 Russians for their work to influence the 2016 presidential election through online social media. Unlike other defendants, van der Zwaan did not enter into an ongoing cooperation agreement with the special counsel’s office.