Special Counsel Mueller Unveils New Indictment in Russia Probe

Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged an attorney formerly employed by a prominent law firm on Tuesday with making false statements to federal authorities, according to Bloomberg.

The indictment, unsealed in federal court in Washington on Feb. 16, accuses Alex Van Der Zwaan with lying to investigators about work he performed for Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom in 2012. Mueller is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Van Der Zwann lied to investigators about a report he helped prepare for the trial of Ukranian politician Yulia Tymoshenko, the indictment charges.

Alex Van Der Zwaan worked at the London office of Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom, according to his Linkedin page. When questioned about his firm’s work in 2012, Van Der Zwann misled investigators about his communications with Richard Gates.

Skadden terminated Van Der Zwaan in 2017 and is cooperating with investigators, the firm said in a statement to New York Times.

Gates was indicted in October along with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort over violations during their consulting work in Ukraine.

Manafort was under investigation long before he joined the Trump campaign. Trump accepted Manafort’s resignation in August of 2016. More than a year later, Manafort was indicted on charges of laundering $18 million. None of the charges against Manafort were related to his 2016 campaign work.

Paul Manafort (2nd L) arrives at a federal courthouse with his attorney Kevin Downing (R) in Washington, DC, on Nov. 2, 2017. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Prosecutors also say that Van Der Zwaan lied about his talks with someone identified only as “Person A.” He also deleted and failed to produce emails when requested to do so by Mueller’s team and a law firm.

Skadden produced a report in 2012 that displayed a defiant view of the prosecution and conviction of Tymoshenko. Unlike a line pushed by the U.S. and European Union at the time, the report argued that Tymoshenko’s trial was not politically motivated.

Skadden received a small fee for the work, just under $12,000, slightly below the amount which would have required competitive bidding. Next year, the firm received $1 million from Ukraine, though no further work was done.

Former Ukrainian prime minister and Yulia Tymoshenko delivers a speech during a convention in Kiev on March 29, 2014.  (GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Paul Manafort was part of the effort to recruit Skadden on behalf of Ukraine, Bloomberg News reported, citing documents it reviewed. The Skadden team working on the report was lead by Gregory Craig, who had previously worked for presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

Manafort was charged with engaging in a conspiracy against the United States, engaging in a conspiracy to launder money, failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, and acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, among other accusations.

Manafort maintains his innocence and has since filed a lawsuit challenging the special counsel’s broad authority and accusing the Justice Department of breaking the law in appointing Mueller.

 

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