Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan became the first person to be jailed as part of the inquiry into the alleged meddling by Russia in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016. Van der Zwaan was on Tuesday sentenced to 30 days in prison and fined $20,000 by a court in the United States, BBC reported.
Van der Zwaan admitted to lying about his ties with former Trump campaign chairperson Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates. He also admitted that he had failed to turn over emails to the investigators in February.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Van der Zwaan had tried to “ingratiate himself” with Gates and Manafort and hid that from his firm Skadden Arps. “This is not something that happened to him,” the judge said, according to CNN. “This is something he did. He put his personal interest ahead of the interest of justice.”
Skadden Arps had fired Van der Zwaan in 2017 and is cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation into the Russian interference led by Robert Mueller, a former director of the agency. Mueller and his team have levelled accusations against 13 Russians and three companies in an indictment that has brought to the fore a complex network that was designed to subvert the election and support the Trump campaign.
The Russians allegedly stole the identities of US citizens and posed as political activists, using subjects such as immigration, religion and race to manipulate an already divisive election campaign, prosecutors told a federal grand jury in Washington DC in February. A few of these Russians were reportedly in contact with “unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign”, the prosecutors said.
A report in The Washington Post claimed that Mueller has informed Trump’s attorneys that he will continue to investigate the president, but does not consider him a criminal target at this point. The special counsel said he was preparing a report about Trump’s actions while in office and potential obstruction of justice, The Washington Post reported, quoting unidentified officials.