Mueller Charges Lawyer With Lying in Ukraine-related Case

A police car is parked outside Jackson Township Middle School Tuesday Feb. 20 2018 in Massillon Ohio. A school official in Ohio says a middle school student apparently shot himself after bringing a gun to school. Police say Jackson Middle School near

Alex van der Zwaan is entering the plea in federal court in Washington where he is admitting to lying to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators about his interactions with Rick Gates.

Van der Zwaan becomes 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 past year, and an online supplier of fake usernames pleaded guilty to identity fraud last week.

He is scheduled for sentencing on April 3.

The two former aides have been charged with conspiracy to launder money and failure to register as foreign agents in connection with work for a pro-Russia Ukrainian party.

Van der Zwaan is due in court on Tuesday afternoon for a plea hearing.

But legal experts said the charge would put more pressure on the former Trump aides to cooperate with Mueller as he looks into whether Russian Federation tried to influence the election in favor of Trump by hacking the emails of leading Democrats and distributing disinformation and propaganda online.

Prosecutors say van der Zwaan lied about his talks with someone else, who they identified only as Person A. The lawyer told investigators he last spoke with Person A in 2014, when in fact they spoke in September 2016 during the secretly recorded call with Gates.

Van der Zwaan's case is the sixth criminal matter made public by the special counsel's office.

The case is U.S. v. van der Zwaan, 18-cr-31, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

Van der Zwaan pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his communications with Rick Gates and an unidentified third person.

Tymoshenko, the subject of the report, is one of the top political rivals of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a Russian sympathizer who used Manafort and Gates as political consultants for more than a decade.

Trump is showing signs of frustration with the continued Russian Federation probe, blaming Democrats for shrugging off his prior claims that the US election system was rigged only to point to Russian Federation influence.

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The Internet Research Agency's funding came through a catering company owned by Evgeny Prigozhin, who is among the 13 charged in the indictment and is widely considered to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as being his chef.

Van der Zwaan's now-defunct LinkedIn page lists him as an associate in the London office of the prominent law firm.

Van der Zwaan arrives at Federal Court on February 20. The New York Times reported that secret documents uncovered in Ukraine listed millions of dollars in illegal payments meant for Manafort, and CNN reported that Manafort's lobbying firm was under scrutiny by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department.

Little information was provided about his links to the Trump campaign, but he represented his law firm in work done for the Ukraine government in 2012 on the corruption trial of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

According to the criminal information filed by special counsel Robert Mueller's office, which is dated February 16, investigators asked van der Zwaan in November about his work in 2012 for the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice preparing a report on the trial of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister.

He also told the agents that he did not know why an email between him and Person A was not produced to Mueller's office.

The charging document also says he claimed that he exchanged an "innocuous text message" with Gates in mid-August 2016, and said falsely that was their last interaction.

Though Manafort was not mentioned by name in the court document about van der Zwaan, the history between Manafort and the law firm suggests that the special counsel has cast a wide net in investigating Manafort's business relationships around the world.

The description given by prosecutors for Person A appears to match Russian-Ukrainian political operative Konstantin Kilimnik, a long-time employee of Manafort's political consulting operations. The special counsel's office also unsealed a criminal case against a California man who pleaded guilty to identity fraud. He could be not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday.

On Friday, it was announced that 13 Russians had been charged by Mr Mueller.

Mr Manafort and Mr Gates were indicted in October a year ago as part of Mr Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling.

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