Robert Mueller's Inquiry Is Sending Someone to Jail

Dutch attorney Alex van der Zwaan gets 30 days for offense not directly related to election
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 3, 2018 11:35 AM CDT
Alex van der Zwaan raises his arms as he goes through security checkpoint during his arrival Federal District Court in Washington, Tuesday, April 3, 2018.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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(Newser) – A Dutch attorney who lied to federal agents investigating former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days in prison in the first punishment handed down in Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. He was also ordered to pay a $20,000 fine. Alex van der Zwaan's sentence could set a guidepost for what other defendants charged with lying in Mueller's investigation may receive when their cases are resolved. Van der Zwaan had faced up to six months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, and his attorneys had pushed for him to pay a fine and leave the country. But US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, citing the need to deter others from lying in an investigation of international importance, said incarceration was necessary, per the AP.

The criminal case against van der Zwaan is not directly related to Russian election interference, the main focus of Mueller's probe. But it has revealed new details about the government's case against Manafort as well as previously undisclosed connections between senior Trump campaign aides, including Rick Gates, and Russia. The allegations have also opened a window into the intersecting universes of international law, foreign consulting work, and politics. Van der Zwaan admitted in February to lying to federal agents about his contacts with Gates and a person prosecutors have since revealed has been assessed to have ties to Russian intelligence. Though prosecutors did not take a position on whether he should be locked up, they stressed that he had lied "repeatedly" to investigators.

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