Vastavam web: U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Tuesday stepped up pressure on two former Trump campaign aides to cooperate in his probe into possible collusion with Russia, unsealing criminal charges against a lawyer for allegedly lying to the FBI.The attorney, Alex van der Zwaan, the son-in-law of one of Russia’s richest men, was scheduled to enter a plea to charges on Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
The case involves work that London-based van der Zwaan, 33, performed in 2012 about Ukraine for Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, senior officials in Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.The charges against van der Zwaan make no reference to Trump’s campaign or the 2016 election.
But legal experts said the charges would put more pressure on the former Trump aides to cooperate with Mueller as he looks into whether Russia tried to influence the election in favor of Trump by hacking the emails of leading Democrats and distributing disinformation and propaganda online.On Friday, Mueller charged a Russian propaganda arm and 13 Russian nationals with crimes related to their alleged interference in the election.
Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign manager for almost five months in 2016, and Gates, who was deputy campaign manager, pleaded not guilty last year to Mueller’s charges.Even if van der Zwaan “is only cooperating against Paul Manafort, that could be very valuable in the big picture. Prosecutors typically very methodically start with low level offenders and try to work their way up the chain,” said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. “My guess is he is cooperating.”