US Special Counsel Files New Charge in Russia Probe

The special counsel

investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election charged an

attorney today with lying to federal investigators about his interactions

with a former Trump campaign official.

A charging document filed in federal court in Washington

accuses Alex van der Zwaan of lying to investigators about his

interactions with Rick Gates, a longtime business associate of

President Donald Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort. Both

Gates and Manafort were indicted last year on charges of conspiracy to

launder money and acting as unregistered foreign agents.

The plea hearing comes on the heels of an extraordinary

indictment from Mueller last week that charged 13 Russian nationals

and three Russian companies in a hidden social media effort to meddle

in the 2016 presidential election by denigrating Democrat Hillary

Clinton and boosting the chances of Trump.

The single-count information against van der Zwaan was filed

ahead of a plea hearing scheduled for later Tuesday.

The charge stems from a part of the special counsel’s

investigation into Manafort and Gates, who are accused of directing a

covert Washington lobbying campaign on behalf of pro-Russian

Ukrainian interests.

According to the court filing, prosecutors say van der Zwaan lied

to federal investigators about his role in the production of a report on

the trial of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. She is a

political foe of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, whose

political party was a client of Gates and Manafort.

In the charging document, van der Zwaan is accused of lying

during an interview with prosecutors and FBI agents on Nov. 3, 2017.

The charging document accuses him of lying about the timing of his

last communication with Gates and an unidentified person described

as Person A. It also accuses him of deleting emails sought by the

special counsel’s office and lying about a phone call he surreptitiously

recorded in September 2016 with Gates and Person A regarding the

Tymoshenko report.

The report was cited in the 12-count indictment against Manafort

and Gates. It accuses the two men of acting as unregistered lobbyists

in connection with the rollout of the report, which was commissioned by

the Ukrainian government. According to the indictment, Manafort and

Gates used one of their offshore accounts to funnel $4 million to pay

secretly for the report.

The report was authored by Washington law firm Skadden,

Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, known as Skadden Arps.

Van der Zwaan’s now-defunct LinkedIn page lists him as an

associate in the London office of the prominent law firm.

Trump is showing signs of frustration with the continued Russia

probe, blaming Democrats for shrugging off his prior claims that the

U.S. election system was rigged only to point to Russia influence, the

Associated Press (AP) news reported.

Source: Oman News Agency