In the first criminal sentence to result from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, a federal judge on Tuesday sentenced Dutch attorney Alex van der Zwaan to 30 days in prison for lying to federal investigators, according to several news outlets.
According to the indictment, Van der Zwaan lied about his contacts with Trump campaign official Richard Gates and a Ukraine-based business associate of both Gates and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. He then tried to cover his tracks by deleting emails that the special counsel’s office had requested, CNN reports.
The businessman han been identified as Konstantin Kilimnik, a former Russian intelligence officer and a longtime associate of Gates and Manafort.
In a court filing last week, prosecutors allege that Van Der Zwaan and Gates knowingly had discussions with Kilimnik during the final months of the election. Prosecutors said the communication “was pertinent to the investigation.”
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.”
Several other Trump campaign associates have also pleaded guilty to various charges stemming from the special counsel investigation, including Gates, former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn. They are all cooperating with prosecutors.
According to Mueller’s team, Van Der Zwaan worked closely with Manafort and Gates on the report, which defended the handling of Tymoshenko’s trial by the Russia-aligned government of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. The State Department criticized the report as a deceptive assessment of the Yanukovych government’s conduct and Mueller’s team has accused Manafort and Gates of funneling $4 million to secretly pay for it.
Skadden, a powerful New York law firm, has said it fired Van Der Zwaan last year and is cooperating with the investigation.
Van Der Zwaan’s precise value to the Mueller investigation remains unclear.
But Weissman in his Monday filing asked Judge Amy Berman Jackson to limit public access to his case records, arguing that “requests filed by someone with non-public information could, themselves, suggest to third parties investigative facts that are otherwise not widely known.”
Van der Zwaan was the fourth guilty plea in the Mueller investigation after Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos and former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to investigators last year, and an online supplier of fake usernames pleaded guilty to identity fraud in February. Gates later took a plea deal and has been cooperating with investigators.
Unlike other defendants, Van der Zwaan did not enter into an ongoing cooperation agreement with the special counsel’s office.