Special counsel Robert Mueller is charging an attorney who communicated with former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates with making false statements to federal officials, according to an indictment released Tuesday.
Alex Van Der Zwaan is charged with making “materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations” to the special counsel’s office and FBI agents on November 3, 2017, according to the indictment.
According to the indictment, Van Der Zwaan said his last communication with Gates was in mid-August 2016 — “an innocuous text message” — and his last communication with “Person A” was in 2014 (when he and Person A discussed Person A’s family).
Van Der Zwaan also said he did not know why an email between him and Person A in September 2016 was not produced to the special counsel’s office, according to the indictment.
However, he “then and there well knew and believed” that in or about September, he spoke with both Gates and Person A regarding the report on Yulia Tymoshenko, a former Ukrainian prime minister and opponent of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, and surreptitiously recorded the calls.
He also deleted and “otherwise did not produce” emails sought by the Special Counsel’s Office and Law Firm A, including the September email between him and Person A in September 2016.
Van Der Zwaan, who worked as an attorney for law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, was hired in 2012 by the Ukraine Ministry of Justice via lobbyist Paul Manafort to prepare a report on the trial of Tymoshenko.
Manafort, a lobbyist and long-time political consultant to several Republican campaigns, had done work in Washington for Yanukovych’s Party before he joined Trump’s campaign team in March 2016 and became Trump’s campaign manager from June to August 2016.
Both Manafort and Gates were indicted last year for alleged financial crimes involving their work in Ukraine that predated their work for the Trump campaign. They have both pleaded not guilty, though there has been recent speculation that Gates is in the process of a making a potential plea deal.
According to New York Times reporter Kenneth Vogel, Van Der Zwaan was one of eight attorneys at the firm involved in writing the report Manafort commissioned, which whitewashed Yanukovych’s record:
Also. according to Vogel, the law firm said it terminated its employment of Van der Zwaan in 2017 and has been “cooperating with authorities in connection with this matter.”