17 July 2019

US: First sentence handed down in Russia probe

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A Dutch lawyer who pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days in prison and ordered to pay a $20,000 fine by a federal judge. reports citing AA.

Alex van der Zwaan is the first person to be sentenced in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing probe into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 White House race and the Donald Trump campaign's potential collusion with the effort officials have described as seeking to undercut Trump's Democratic challenger.

Van der Zwaan will also have to undergo two months of supervised release after he serves his prison term.

He acknowledged what he did "was wrong" shortly before Judge Amy Berman Jackson handed down her sentence.

"I apologize to the court for my conduct," van der Zwaan said, according to reports.

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, 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.

Like van der Zwaan, Gates has also struck a plea deal with Mueller's office, as has disgraced National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Five people have pleaded guilty to various charges Mueller has brought, three of whom have direct ties to the Trump campaign.

Manafort is expected to be tried in July in the first of two cases related Mueller’s investigation.

Trump has repeatedly denied his campaign colluded with the alleged Russian effort, and has dismissed Mueller's inquiry as a "witch hunt" as speculation has mounted over whether he would terminate it.

Should Trump fire Mueller the repercussions would likely be severe for the American president. Lawmakers, including senior members of Trump's party, have warned the president not to do so and said it could prompt congressional action.

The White House has denied any discussion of terminating Mueller.

2018.04.03 / 23:45
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