Dutch lawyer sentenced to 30 days in prison in Russia probe
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Dutch attorney who lied to federal agents investigating former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days in prison in the first punishment handed down in special counsel’s Russia investigation. He was also ordered to pay a $20,000 fine.
Alex van der Zwaan’s sentence could set a guidepost for what other defendants charged with lying in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation may receive when their cases are resolved. Among them are a former White House national security adviser and a Trump campaign foreign policy aide.
Van der Zwaan had faced zero to six months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, and his attorneys had pushed for him to pay a fine and leave the country. But U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, citing the need to deter others from lying in an investigation of international importance, said incarceration was necessary.
The criminal case against van der Zwaan is not directly related to Russian election interference, the main focus of Mueller’s probe. But it has revealed new details about the government’s case against Manafort as well as previously undisclosed connections between senior Trump campaign aides, including Rick Gates, and Russia. The allegations have also opened a window into the intersecting universes of international law, foreign consulting work and politics.
Van der Zwaan admitted in February to lying to federal agents about his contacts with Gates and a person prosecutors have since revealed has been assessed to have ties to Russian intelligence. Though prosecutors did not take a position on whether he should be locked up, they stressed that he had lied “repeatedly” to investigators.
Van der Zwaan’s attorneys argued that he had suffered enough already, saying his life had already been destroyed by his “terrible decision” to lie to federal authorities. The attorneys also pushed Jackson to allow van der Zwaan to return to London as soon as possible where he lives with his wife, who is pregnant with their first child.