Four days after his surprise indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for conspiracy against the United States, special counsel Robert Mueller revealed a new plea deal Tuesday, with Russia-connected lawyer Alex Van Der Zwaan. Mueller charges that Van Der Zwaan lied to FBI investigators about his communications with Richard Gates, a surrogate of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort who stands accused, along with Manafort, of conspiracy against the United States, fraud, and failure to register as a foreign agent.
The London-based attorney, the son-in-law of Ukranian-Russian oligarch German Khan, is expected to plead guilty to the charge Tuesday afternoon.
Van Der Zwaan came into contact with Manafort in 2012 while working with the international law firm Skadden Arps. Manafort, who was then a consultant for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, arranged for Skadden to be hired to prepare a report on corruption charges against one of Yanukovych’s political rivals, Yulia Tymoshenko.
According to the plea deal, Van Der Zwaan told the special counsel that his last communication with Gates was an “innocuous text message” in August 2016, while in reality he had spoken to Gates about the Tymoshenko report in September 2016, “and surreptitiously recorded the calls.” The plea also charges Van Der Zwaan with deleting emails sought by the special counsel.
The Tymoshenko report first appeared in the charges filed against Manafort and Gates last October. Prosecutors alleged that the defendants used the Van Der Zwaan report to “lobb[y] multiple Members of Congress and their staffs about Ukraine sanctions, the validity of Ukraine elections, and the propriety of Yanukovych’s imprisoning his presidential rival, Yulia Tymoshenko.” That indictment also charged Manafort and Gates with secretly funding the Skadden report by funneling $4 million through an offshore account.
After Manafort and Gates were indicted, President Trump and his allies consistently downplayed the news by insisting that the alleged crimes took place “years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign.” Tuesday’s filing contradicts these claims, suggesting that Gates was still communicating with Van Der Zwaan about the former's illegal actions as late as September 2016, while he was still working with Manafort on the Trump campaign.
The charges against Van der Zwaan may have resulted from Gates’ reported decision to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation. CNN reported last week that Gates has been in plea negotiations with the special counsel for about a month.
Source : http://www.weeklystandard.com/mueller-reaches-plea-deal-with-lawyer-who-has-ties-to-russia/article/2011654438