Special Counsel indicts attorney on false statement charges related to Russia investigation [updated]

Special Counsel indicts attorney on false statement charges related to Russia investigation [updated]

US Special Counsel Robert Mueller [official website] on Friday indicted [indictment, PDF] Attorney Alex van der Zwaan for false statements made during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

Van der Zwaan was indicted for his answers regarding communication with Richard W. Gates III, a former aide to President Trump, who was also charged [JURIST report] with money laundering, conspiracy, and false statements, and with an undisclosed “Person A.” These communications occurred while van der Zwaan’s firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom [corporate website] was preparing a report on the trial of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko [JURIST news archive]. The firm was involved in countering allegations that former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s [JURIST news archive] decision to bring corruption charges [JURIST Report] against Tymoshenko was motivated by politics and unsupported by evidence.

Van der Zwaan allegedly falsely represented his last communication with Gates in August 2016 and with “Person A” in 2014. Van der Zwaan also maintained he did not know the reason why an email between him and “Person A” was not produced to Mueller’s team. The Special Counsel determined that van der Zwaan had spoken in September 2016 with Gates and “Person A” regarding the report on the Tymoshenko trial, recording the call in secret, and deleted the requested emails including the email between him and “Person A”.

The charges for false statements will be brought under Title 18, Section 1001(a)(2) of the United States Code [text], which prohibits “knowingly and willfully” making “any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation.”

UPDATE: 20 February 2018 at 17:03EDT

Van der Zwaan has pleaded guilty [plea deal, PDF] to one count of making false statements under 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(2). The Special Counsel has agreed not to prosecute van der Zwaan for any other false statement, destruction of evidence, violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act [text, PDF] or other conduct “arising from the preparation and/or roll out of the Tymoshenko report for the Ukraine Ministry of Justice.”