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UPDATE 2 - US: Special Counsel charges lawyer with lying

UPDATE 2 - US: Special Counsel charges lawyer with lying
Alex Van Der Zwaan pleads guilty to lying to Special Counsel's office investigating Russian election interference

ADDS PLEA AGREEMENT DETAIL; UPDATES SUBHEADLINE TO MATCH

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) - Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Tuesday charged a lawyer with lying about his interactions with a former aide to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

The charges filed in federal court in Washington, DC are the latest sign of Mueller's investigation continuing momentum buildup.

Alex Van Der Zwaan pled guilty later Tuesday to a single charge of making false statements. In exchange, he is expected to be sentenced to up to six months in prison with the possibility that a judge could give him no time at all. He could also face a fine ranging from $500 to $9,500, according to his plea agreement.

He is expected to be sentenced in early April.

Van Der Zwaan was charged with lying to investigators during a Nov. 3 meeting about his contacts with a person identified as "Person A" and Richard Gates, a Trump campaign aide and close confidant of Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign manager.

Gates and Manafort were indicted last year on charges related to laundering tens of millions of dollars and failing to register as agents acting on behalf of a foreign government.

Van Der Zwaan is also accused in the charging document of deleting emails sought by the Special Counsel's office. He was speaking with investigators about his 2012 work with a law firm hired by the Ukrainian government.

If Van Der Zwaan strikes a deal with prosecutors, he will be the third person to cooperate with Mueller's probe into Russia's alleged attempts to influence the 2016 election and the Trump campaign's possible collusion with that effort.

Last week, Mueller's probe handed out indictments for 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for allegedly meddling in the 2016 White House race.

Trump continued to fume about the investigation, blaming former President Barack Obama for failing to take his claims of voter fraud seriously.

"That’s because he thought Crooked Hillary was going to win and he didn’t want to 'rock the boat.' When I easily won the Electoral College, the whole game changed and the Russian excuse became the narrative of the Dems," he wrote on Twitter.

Former CIA Director John Brennan slammed Trump's use of Twitter to criticize the Russia probe, saying it makes Trump look "small, petty, and banal".

"Your insecurity is well deserved, as is your concern over Russia investigation. Thomas Paine was right when he said, 'These are the times that try men's souls,'" Brennan wrote on Twitter.

source: News Feed
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