Dutch Attorney Sentenced to 30 Days in Prison in US' Russia Probe

The first sentence in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation has dropped, and it's ... kind of a snoozer. The attorneys pushed Jackson to allow van der Zwaan to return to London as soon as possible where he lives with his wife, who is going through a hard pregnancy.

According to a two-page indictment released by the special counsel's office February 20, the Ukraine-connected attorney misled authorities about his most recent contact with Gates; deleted and failed to produce emails Mueller's team had requested; and misrepresented his involvement in an worldwide law firm's report on former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in 2012.

How does this tie into Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation?

"It is a message that needs to be sent, particularly because you are an attorney", she said.

Van der Zwaan was hired by Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his deputy, Rick Gates, in an unrelated job to help launch a public-relations campaign aimed at improving the image of the now-ousted president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich. "These were lies", Jackson told van der Zwaan as he stood before her.

"He has been here well over four months without a home, without his wife and without his family", his attorney, William Schwartz, said.

Mr Mueller's indictment said Van der Zwaan "deleted and otherwise did not produce emails sought by the special counsel's office" and made a false statement about when he was last in contact with Mr Gates and "Person A", who has not been identified but is described as a long-term business associate of Mr Gates and Mr Manafort.

It's unclear when the next person charged in the Mueller probe might face sentencing, but the fact that van der Zwaan got jail time suggests they are likely to face stiff penalties. Prosecutors said he talked with Gates about that work.

Gates and Manafort were indicted a year ago on charges related to laundering tens of millions of dollars and failing to register as agents acting on behalf of a foreign government. He said Mueller overstepped his bounds by charging him for conduct that occurred years before the 2016 presidential election.

Van der Zwaan's story is convoluted, and involves a Ukrainian internal political dispute from a decade ago. Politico reports that his lawyers had asked the judge to let him return home to London by August, when his wife is due to give birth. According to the indictment, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents personally questioned van der Zwaan in November 2017 about his communications with Gates and an unidentified Person A. Yanukovych had imprisoned Tymoshenko, a political rival, after a gas supply controversy in 2009 involving Russian Federation.

In addition, the Ukrainian government claimed to have paid only $12,000 for the report, an amount that put it just below the limit that would have required competitive bidding for the project under Ukrainian law. Manafort and Gates's job was to run cover for this clearly undemocratic prosecution.

  • Jon Douglas