Special counsel Robert Mueller has charged an attorney who communicated with former Trump campaign adviser Richard Gates with making false statements to the FBI and failing to surrender evidence. A court filing released this morning charges Attorney Alex Van Der Zwaan with making “materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations” to the FBI.
Van Der Zwaan helped Ukraine’s Justice Ministry prepare a report in 2012 on the trial of Ukrainian politician Yulia Tymoshenko. Tymoshenko had been the main political rival of pro-Russian Ukrainian dictator Victor Yanukovych. The trial was largely seen as persecution of Tymoshenko by Yanukovych as she was calling for a movement in the country towards the EU and away from Russian influence.
Van Der Zwaan was working for a London law firm that helped prepare that report, which was designed to counter international criticism of Tymoshenko’s trial.
Van Der Zwaan has apparently lied to the FBI about the last communications he had with Rick Gates. Both Gates and his superviser, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, have been indicted by Robert Mueller for allegedly laundering millions of dollars received for their lobbying efforts on behalf of a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party, the same party as Yanukovych’s, years before their association with Donald Trump as well as lying to the FBI.
According to today’s charges, Van Der Zwaan lied to investigators when he told them that his last communication with Rick Gates was in August of 2016. According to the charges, Van Der Zwaan had spoken to Gates, and another individual, identified only as “Person A,” in September of 2016. The charges also allege that Van Der Zwaan discussed the Tymoshenko report with Gates and “Person A,” recorded the calls, but then deleted or did not otherwise produce emails about the conversations between he and “Person A” after Mueller’s team asked him for them.
Gates has reportedly struck a plea deal with Mueller’s team. If true, it would make Gates the third defendant to strike a deal with Mueller’s team.