Deputy AG OK'd Mueller's focus on Manafort-Russia ties

A Lawyer Who Admitted Lying To The Special Counsel's Office Was Just Sentenced To One Month In Jail

Special counsel Robert Mueller was authorized by a top Justice Department official to investigate whether Paul Manafort, the onetime chairman of President Donald Trump's campaign, illegally coordinated with Russian Federation to interfere in the 2016 election, new court filings show.

Van der Zwaan, who lives in London, was sentenced to 30 days in prison after pleading guilty to lying to investigators about his contact with former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates.

The firm, which is co-operating with the investigation and which fired him previous year, worked with former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort and his ex-colleague Mr Gates at a time when they were both political consultants in Ukraine.

Alex van der Zwaan, who pleaded guilty to lying to prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the Russian Federation probe, faces an estimated zero to six months in jail, according to sentencing guidelines.

That person is believed to be Manafort employee Konstantin Kilimnik, though he denies and links to Russia's GRU military intelligence agency, which is believed to be behind the hack of Democratic emails in 2016.

His connection to the Russian Federation probe runs through Rick Gates, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort's deputy.

He said Mueller, who was assigned to investigate potential coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign, overstepped his bounds by charging him for conduct that occurred years before the 2016 presidential election. "These were lies", Jackson told van der Zwaan as he stood before her.

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 a year ago and agreed to cooperate, and an online supplier of fake usernames pleaded guilty to identity fraud in February.

Van der Zwaan turned over secret recordings to Mueller's investigators that he had made of his conversations with Gates, the associate, and a senior partner at his law firm.

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The report headed off claims that the court case against her was politically driven.

The subject of the recorded phone call, prosecutors said, was a 2012 report prepared by van der Zwaan's law firm about the jailing of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

In the filing, Mueller's prosecutors sought to refute arguments by Manafort's lawyers that they went beyond the original appointment authority outlined in the special counsel regulations. In the process of looking into Manafort and Gates's ties to the Kremlin, Mueller's team started investigating the Skadden Arps report.

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 global law firm's report on former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in 2012. Gates is cooperating with Mueller's investigation.

Van der Zwaan does have a prominent connection to Russian Federation beyond his work with Gates and Manafort - his father-in-law is Alfa Bank co-founder German Khan, one of the country's richest men.

In particular, van der Zwaan was accused of lying to investigators about why he did not provide the special counsel Robert Mueller's office with a September 2016 email between him and another person referred to as "Person A" in the February charging document.

In the Washington, D.C. indictment, Manafort faces charges of money laundering, tax evasion, and failure to disclose foreign lobbying.

Trump has repeatedly insisted that Mueller's probe has found "no collusion" on the part of his campaign. It came not long after the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided Manafort's Alexandria, Virginia, condominium and served him a search warrant in late July.

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