Mueller Charges Lawyer With False Statements in Russia Probe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
Robert Mueller
Special Counsel Robert Mueller. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst, File)

The U.S. special counsel who is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has charged an attorney with lying about his communications with Rick Gates, a former aide to Donald Trump’s campaign.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller unsealed criminal charges on Tuesday against lawyer Alex Van der Zwaan for allegedly lying to the FBI last November about work his law firm performed in 2012 related to Ukraine.

Gates and Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort are also facing criminal charges including conspiracy to launder money and failure to register as foreign agents in connection with their political work for a pro-Russia Ukrainian party. They have pleaded not guilty.

The charging documents say Van der Zwaan made false statements about the last time he communicated with Gates and another unnamed person, only identified as “Person A.”

He allegedly told investigators he did not know why an email between him and Person A was not produced to the Special Counsel’s office, but had actually deleted or failed to produce emails that were being sought.

Van der Zwaan will appear in court later Tuesday for a plea hearing.

Mueller is investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. Trump says there was no collusion and Russia denies meddling with the election.