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US: Russian meddling investigator files charges against lawyer for lying

Alex Van Der Zwan lied about his communications with Richard Gates, a former deputy manager in the Trump campaign team and a close aide of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

world Updated: Feb 20, 2018 22:40 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
US Russia meddling probe,Robert Mueller,Alex Van Der Zwan
Zwan lied about his communications with Richard Gates, a former deputy manager in the Trump campaign team, the office of special counsel Robert Mueller III (in picture) said in the filing. (Reuters file)

A special counsel investigating Russian meddling in US elections on Tuesday filed charges against a lawyer for lying to investigators about his communications with a Trump campaign aide who is himself facing allegations of financial crimes and is reportedly negotiating a plea deal.

Alex Van Der Zwan, the lawyer, is expected to plead guilty, as indicated by the filing, which was not an indictment--a set of allegations and charges--but an “information”, letting the court know of the charges that the accused is not contesting.

Zwan lied about his communications with Richard Gates, a former deputy manager in the Trump campaign team and a close aide of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who has been charged with financial crimes, the office of special counsel Robert Mueller III said in the filing.

Zwan, who worked in London for US law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, had lied about his communications with Gates pertaining their work in and for Ukraine.

The new filing come just days after the special counsel announced its most sweeping indictment, charging 13 Russian individuals and three entities with criminal interference in the 2016 elections with the intention to sow distrust among Americans for their political system and help Donald Trump in his bid for the White House and damage his rival Hillary Clinton.

The indictment said these Russians were in contact with “unwitting” members of the Trump campaign and other Americans but no allegations were levelled against anyone for colluding with the Russians, which President Donald Trump has been keenest to establish.

The counsel had previously charged and indicted Trump’s first national security adviser Michael Flynn with lying about his contacts with Russian officials, which he has pleaded guilty to in a deal and is cooperating with the investigators, as is George Papadopoulos, a campaign aide.

Manafort and Gates are facing charges of financial crimes not connected to the Russian interference, going back to their work for the Ukrainian government. Manafort is contesting the charges and the Tuesday indictment was said to be a part of the case the special counsel was building against him.

First Published: Feb 20, 2018 22:36 IST