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Dutch Attorney Pleads Guilty to Lying to Special Counsel

Alex Van Der Zwaan's plea is latest criminal case to come out of Robert Mueller's investigation.

Leah Millis/REUTERS/NewscomLeah Millis/REUTERS/NewscomAn attorney who used to represent the Ukranian Ministry of Justice pled guilty this afternoon to charges of making false statements to federal investigators. The plea marked the latest criminal case to come out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

In a charging document filed on Friday, lawyers with Mueller's team stated that Alex Van Der Zwaan, 33, lied to FBI agents about the timing of his last communication with Richard Gates, the indicted business partner of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. The document also states that Van Der Zwaan deleted emails the FBI had requested in connection with the investigation, then told the bureau he did not know what had become of the messages.

In federal court today, Van Der Zwaan told Judge Amy Berman Jackson under oath that he was in fact guilty of the charges. Van Der Zwaan was released on personal recognizance, and sentencing was set for April 3. Prosecutor Andrew Weissmann agreed with the defense team that the applicable guideline sentence is likely to be 0–6 months, so it is possible Van Der Zwaan will serve no jail time.

As part of the plea agreement, the special counsel's office has agreed not to charge Van Der Zwaan with any further crimes related to the incident. In the meantime, Van Der Zwaan, a Dutch citizen, has surrendered his passport to the FBI.

The false statements at issue were made during an FBI interview last November. Weissmann told Judge Jackson that Manafort hired Van Der Zwaan's former law firm—Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom—to draft a report on behalf of his client, the pro-Russian former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

The report was intended to discredit allegations that Yanukovych's Ministry of Justice prosecuted his predecessor, Yulia Tymoshenko, on illegitimate grounds. Van Der Zwaan was assigned to work on the report due to his fluency in Russian, Weissmann said, although the parties dispute how significant his involvement in writing the document was.

The New York Times reports that Van Der Zwaan, who was fired from Skadden in 2017, was one of the eight lawyers whose work on behalf of Yanukovych the current Ukrainian government asked the Department of Justice to question.

As in previous cases to emerge from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, it is not clear that the underlying conduct the defendant pleaded guilty to lying about was criminal in itself.

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  • John||

    Not only was the underlying conduct not a crime, Mueller has yet again branded a potential witness a liar and a perjurer. That is not as they say good strategy if you plan is to indict small fish and get them to testify against the big fish in the dreaded Ruskie collusion conspiracy.

  • Tony||

    Mueller made him perjure?

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    No, but someone who admits to lying to the FBI, pleads guilty to the crime, makes for a really poor witness when it comes to credibility.

  • Tony||

    I dunno. I don't think of people as either liars or truth-tellers. Usually people like when they think they're gonna get in trouble otherwise.

    On the other hand there are those compulsive types who, like an acquaintance of mine, insist that their cat has been published.

  • Mickey Rat||

    The standard a prosecution case has to overcome is reasonable doubt. Having an admitted liar as your witness injects doubt into your case.

  • Adam330||

    You might think that, but that's not how it works in real life. Prosecutors use this tactic for a reason: it works.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Weismman told Judge Jackson that Manafort hired Van Der Zwaan's former law firm—Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom—to draft a report on behalf of his client, the pro-Russian former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

    The report was intended to discredit allegations that Yanukovych's Ministry of Justice prosecuted his predecessor, Yulia Tymoshenko, on illegitimate grounds.

    Cripes, this is worse than Days of Our Lives.

  • John||

    In a charging document filed on Friday, lawyers with Mueller's team stated that Alex Van Der Zwaan, 33, lied to FBI agents about the timing of his last communication with Richard Gates, the indicted business partner of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. The document also states that Van Der Zwaan deleted emails the FBI had requested in connection with the investigation, then told the bureau he did not know what had become of the messages.

    He deleted emails that went to a guy who knew someone who was a volunteer for Trump for like three days once. Mueller is really getting close to Trump here.

  • BYODB||


    ...that went to a guy who knew someone who was a volunteer for Trump for like three days once.

    [Lone Starr] What does that make us?

    [Dark Helmet] Absolutely nothing...

  • Ecoli||

    How many subpoenaed emails did Hillary and her co-conspirators delete?

    How many lies did Comey acknowledge that Hillary told?

    Why is she not offered a plea deal?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Why would you talk to investigators in the first place?

  • John||

    Because you think you can talk your way out of something or that the fact you have done nothing wrong means they are your friends. As amazing as that sounds, people actually believe that.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yeah, you might not want to take the Fifth if you don't have to, and hasn't Mueller's team dropped prosecutions against family members in the past in exchange for guilty pleas?

    Yeah, we'd like to talk to you, Mr. X, but if you don't want to talk, then I guess we've got some questions for your kids and your wife.

  • John||

    I suspect there is a lot of that going on. These people are evil.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Mr. Flynn's son, Michael Flynn Jr., was intimately involved with his father's undisclosed lobbying efforts. The son has not been charged with a crime and it is not clear whether his possible legal exposure put extra pressure on his father to plead guilty. Barry Coburn, a lawyer for Mr. Flynn Jr., declined to comment."

    ----New York Times

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/01/us/ politics/michael-flynn-guilty -russia-investigation.html

    It was a plea deal, in which Flynn eventually capitulated to pressure and decided to plead guilty--but I bet the fact that his son was under investigation never even came up on either side?

    Only the New York times could be stupid enough to believe that.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Only the New York times could be stupid enough to believe that."

    Then Tony shows up to prove me wrong.

  • BYODB||

    Tony is stupid enough to believe it, whereas the New York Times think's we're all stupid enough to believe it. A fine difference, perhaps, but that's how I see it.

  • Adam330||

    Where are you getting the conclusion that the NYTimes believes that he wasn't pressured? Seems to me that they think he likely was, but they're saying "it is not clear" because the lawyer declined to confirm their belief.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Are you suggesting that it's honestly "unclear" whether subjecting people's children to a criminal probe puts pressure on them to make it all stop?

    Maybe you're unaware that Flynn's son was the subject of a criminal probe?

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news /us-news/ mike-flynn-s-son-subject- federal-russia-probe-n800741

    Yeah, anything that threatens to throw people's children in prison tends to put pressure on them to make it stop--that's perfectly clear to me.

    Some people might even plead guilty just to save their children from the anguish of being the subject of a federal investigation.

  • Tony||

    Be honest. You don't give a single crap if anyone with an (R) after his name committed a crime in this deal, do you?

  • Ecoli||

    When do we get to the part where Trump is charged with a crime? I think the whole investigation was supposed to be about that, wasn't it? Instead, we see people charged with crimes committed years ago, before Trump was anything more than an invited pussy-grabber with a reality TV show.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    He's a lawyer. He can handle it.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "An attorney who used to represent the Ukranian Ministry of Justice pled guilty this afternoon to charges of making false statements to federal investigators."

    Every time Mueller makes another witness plead guilty to lying, it hurts his own case--it's a red flag indicating that Mueller has bupkis.

    You don't make your potential witnesses plead guilty to lying unless there's absolutely nothing else you can do. I mean, your whole defense's strategy is to create doubt in the minds of voters as to the credibility of your witnesses, and here Mueller is making them plead guilty to perjury before the trial even starts?!

  • Ken Shultz||

    "I mean, your whole defense's strategy is to create doubt in the minds of voters [jurors] as to the credibility of your witnesses, and here Mueller is making them plead guilty to perjury before the trial even starts?!"

    FIXED!!!

  • ThomasD||

    Maybe the whole thing is just a secret Russian plot to destroy the West by taking down a bunch of little fish.

    What's Russian for anchovies?

  • Ken Shultz||

    They were trying to trick us into thinking that Hillary is a crook!

    They were sewing discord between anti-fa and the alt-right!

    It it weren't for the Russians, we'd all be hugging each other and singing and growing as people under Hillary Clinton.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "What's Russian for anchovies?"

    Anchovy but in cyrillic letters.

  • FlameCCT||

    It doesn't allow Russian letters.
    Russian Translit: anchous

  • Griffin3||

    What's Russian for anchovies?


    citizen --> translate

  • Griffin3||

    It would have been more amuseful, if Reason would have let me post the Cyrillic translation.

  • FlameCCT||

    LOL

    And yes, it appears that Reason doesn't allow any other alphabet.

  • BYODB||


    As in previous cases to emerge from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, it is not clear that the underlying conduct the defendant pleaded guilty to lying about was criminal in itself.


    Who says that criminalizing lying about non-criminal behavior isn't paying dividends!


    As part of the plea agreement, the special counsel's office has agreed not to charge Van Der Zwaan with any further crimes related to the incident. In the meantime, Van Der Zwaan, a Dutch citizen, has surrendered his passport to the FBI.


    I wonder if the Dutch are happy about this witch hunt collecting their citizens on nothingburger charges? Just kidding, since borders aren't real he's a citizen by virtue of standing here. Tie him to the post, I'll get the kerosene. Am I doing it right, or does the U.N. need to set him on fire to give it that extra air of international consensus?


    /sarc

  • Michael Cook||

    So how did Joe Biden's surviving son (a failed lawyer) manage to get on the board of a Ukrainian energy company? How come Mueller has no interest whatsoever in Hillary's many Russian and Ukrainian plutocrat donors to her "charity" that employs so many of her political pals and operatives? How come no Mueller interest in Hillary buying the dossier from Russian sources to rig an election?

    How come Mueller's longtime friend and hotshot confederate Andrew Weisman (noted pit bull prosecutor) has so many major convictions overturned because he failed to disclose info to defendants and maybe judges that he should have disclosed? Is this how Michael Flynn got bull dogged and rolled? Is a complete Flynn exoneration in our near national future?

  • Michael Cook||

    Almost forgot. Christopher Green, British national, did every single prong of the major charges against the Russians. When is Mueller going to indict and extradite this former British spy?

  • Michael Cook||

    Steele, not Green. I knew a Chris Green once. BTW, the FBI can lie to you all day and threaten your family with lies about how they can be charged. No problem. You get just one little detail wrong in a long complicated situation and you are prison bound.

  • Tony||

    The reason all special prosecutors have to be Republicans is so that small-minded propaganda-addled partisan shits contain this kind of blather to a muted roar.

    You notice no Democrats pissed off about how everyone doing the investigating is a Republican? Because we're fucking adults.

  • Michael Cook||

    No, because everyone doing the investigating is certainly not a Republican. They may have claimed that in the far distant past but their real connections and promotions always depend on Democrats. Mostly the FBI/DOJ cadre of six or seven highly placed insiders were agile opportunists who were very, very sure that Hillary was going to win, after all. As was Putin.

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