21 Feb 2018
US-elections Russian interference probe: Lawyer accused of lying pleads guilty
Written byRamya Patelkhana
Special Counsel Robert Mueller probing Russian interference in the 2016 US elections charged a lawyer for lying about his communications with former Trump campaign aide Richard Gates, who himself faces financial crime allegations.
Lawyer Alex Van Der Zwaan has even pleaded guilty to the charges, admitting that he made false statements about his contact with Gates to the investigators working with Mueller.
What are the charges against lawyer Zwaan?
According to the court filing, Zwaan lied to the federal prosecutors about his interactions with Richard Gates, regarding their work "in and for Ukraine".
Last year, Gates was indicted on charges concerning his consulting work with Ukrainian politicians.
Gates, the ex-Deputy Manager in the Trump team, is a close aide of Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, who is charged with financial crimes, too.
Charges made no reference to 2016 election campaign
Accusations leveled against Zwaan include deleting and not producing emails (sent to Gates and other persons) sought by Special Counsel Mueller's office.
He lied about his communication with Gates. The court filing also showed Zwaan made false statements about his interactions with certain "Person A" who was not identified.
However, the charges against Zwaan didn't make any reference to Trump's 2016 election campaign.
Who is Alex Van Der Zwaan?
Zwaan, a 33-year-old Dutch national, worked for the New York-headquartered law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom at its London office.
He married Russian billionaire German Khan's daughter Eva Khan last year. German Khan is the co-founder of one of Russia's largest investment groups, Alfa Group.
Interestingly, Tatler magazine last year reported that Zwaan had "Russian roots and worked with Russian oligarchs."
Russians posing as Americans promoted political rallies in US
The latest filing comes within days after Special Counsel Mueller charged as many as 13 Russian nationals and three companies with "criminal interference" in the US Presidential elections aimed at "sowing distrust" for the political system among Americans and helping Trump win the race.
The Russians, who were in contact with "unwitting" Trump campaign members, allegedly posed as Americans and organized political rallies in the US.
President Trump denies collusion between his camp and Russia
After Mueller charged 13 Russians, who allegedly posed as Americans, with tampering in the 2016 US Presidential Election, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed these charges as "blather". President Donald Trump, however, said it proves that there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia.
Special Counsel Mueller charged 19 persons in Russia probe
Lawyer Zwaan is reportedly the 19th person to be charged in the Russian investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who earlier charged and indicted Michael Flynn, President Trump's first National Security Adviser, for lying about his links with Russian officials; he has pleaded guilty and is now cooperating with the investigators.
Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos was also charged with making false statements.