Special Counsel Robert Mueller has charged Dutch lawyer Alex Van Der Zwaan. The charge however is another false statement indictment and is not tied to Russian collusion. Rather Van Der Zwaan was interviewed in rather to dealing concerning Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice in 2012. The expected guilty plea certainly adds to the prosecution cases but remains far removed from the Trump campaign. It is more likely related to the Paul Manafort prosecution.
Van Der Zwaan was charged with “willfully and knowingly making materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to both the special counsel’s office and FBI investigators. He was interviewed due to his work on a report on the trial of Ukrainian politician Yulia Tymoshenko. Both Paul Manafort and Richard Gates have been tied to Ukranian interests.
Van der Zwaan is also accused of deleting or withholding emails sought by the Special Counsel’s office.
As I have discussed earlier, Manafort had a reputation for dubious associations and clients — making his selection as Trump campaign chair baffling. For almost ten years, he was a consultant to Ukraine’s Party of Regions and its leader, Viktor Yanukovych. The party was viewed as being supported by Russians interests and took an anti-Nato and anti-West stance. Yanukovych would ultimately flee to Russia as people rose up against corruption.
Manafort made millions in his association with the party. Those payments between 2004 and 2014 are the focus of Manafort.
As NBC News previously reported, federal officials say that the money Manafort earned from both the party and the oligarchs — and what he did with it — are part of what has drawn the attention of investigators. New details keep emerging as U.S. and Ukrainian officials piece together Manafort’s contacts and payments in Ukraine from 2004 to 2014.
Yanukovych is a remarkably sleazy character with prior criminal convictions and a long line of corruption allegations. There is also an attempted assassination of one of his political opponents. Frankly, few of us were surprised that Manafort found him and his party to be an attractive potential client. Manafort worked to try to return Yanukovyck to power.