Mueller Russia probe: Dutch Lawyer given 30 days in prison
The first sentence in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russia's involvement in the 2016 US presidential election was handed down on Tuesday. London-based lawyer Alex van der Zwaan has been ordered by a federal judge to serve 30 days in prison for lying to the FBI about his communication with a former chairman of Trump campaign Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates.
An influential Russian banker's son-in-law, Zwaan, 33, has also been charged with destroying the emails Mueller had requested. He had pleaded guilty on February 20. On Tuesday, he said in the court, "What I did was wrong. I apologize to the court for my conduct. I apologize to my wife and to my family for the pain I have caused," reported The Washington Post.
Though Zwaan is not a key figure in Mueller's probe, his case is important as it highlights the special counsel's continued interest in the actions of Trump's former aides Manafort and Gates during his 2016 presidential campaign. Meanwhile, Mueller told Trump's attorneys in March that as of now the President is only a subject of his investigation, not a criminal target.
Interestingly, a person is considered a subject when their conduct is under scanner but there isn't sufficient proof to press charges. However, all it takes is one solid evidence for a subject to become a criminal target. According to The Washington Post, Mueller is preparing a detailed report on Trump's actions ever since he moved to the White House and "potential obstruction of justice".
Mueller has been wanting to interview Trump for a while now in connection with the ongoing probe. However, his sustained wish to talk to the President has divided Trump's inner circle. Some, including Trump, believe there is nothing to fear but others, noting how easily subjects become indicted targets in investigations, think such a meeting could put Trump in legal trouble.