Judge sentences Dutch lawyer to 30 days in Mueller probe

Alex van der Zwaan, an attorney who pleaded guilty to lying to investigators in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation, received the first sentence to come out of the probe on Tuesday.

Van der Zwaan pleaded guilty in February to lying about his conversations with Rick Gates, who was Donald Trump's deputy campaign manager in 2016, and an unnamed person who prosecutors say has ties to Russian intelligence.

"We're not talking about a traffic ticket", US District Judge Amy Jackson told Van Der Zwaan, emphasizing that his behavior had taken on greater importance because of gravity of the investigation that he had been dragged into.

Van der Zwaan's communications with Gates and a person with Russian intelligence ties became important to the special counsel's broader investigation, as it pursues crimes related to Russian interference in the 2016 election, Mueller's team has said. So they retained a team from Skadden Arps, which included van der Zwaan, to put together a "report" that conveniently concluded that there was no political motive for putting her in jail.

"He is literally in limbo", Mr Schwartz said. A Deripaska spokeswoman has said the billionaire, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was not offered and did not receive briefings.

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The Dutch lawyer is now the first person to be sentenced as part of Mueller's investigation.

The indictment against him did not refer to the 2016 election campaign.

Weissmann declined to ask the judge to give van Der Zwaan a specific length of sentence.

"It is unusual conduct in the least to make a false statement and then provide proof of the false statement", Schwartz said.

Mr Gates pleaded guilty on February 23 to conspiring to defraud the United States and lying to Mr Mueller's office, and is now cooperating with the probe.

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Van der Zwaan last June married Eva Khan, the daughter of Khan.

Last week, van der Zwaan's lawyers had pleaded with the judge to spare him from prison, arguing that "his career has been destroyed, he has been separated from his friends and family, and he faces the possibility of missing the birth of his first child".

Van der Zwaan is a London-based lawyer who formerly worked at worldwide law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. According to the indictment, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents personally questioned van der Zwaan in November 2017 about his communications with Gates and an unidentified Person A.

The subject of the recorded phone call, prosecutors said, was a 2012 report prepared by van der Zwaan's law firm about the jailing of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

The firm, which is co-operating with the investigation and which fired him past year, worked with former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort and his ex-colleague Mr Gates at a time when they were both political consultants in Ukraine. Yanukovych had imprisoned Tymoshenko, a political rival, after a gas supply controversy in 2009 involving Russian Federation. Manafort and Gates's job was to run cover for this clearly undemocratic prosecution.

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