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Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Russian plot and its first sentenced

Por Feco

Ever since Donald Trump was appointed as president of the United States, the alleged collaboration among some of his staff members and Russia for meddling in the results of the elections has been investigated. The first sentence was recently known, and a Dutch lawyer has been given his verdict. Many expect to see Trump among the involved.

The first sentence for the Russian plot was made public this Tuesday. A Dutch lawyer based in London, Alex van der Zwaan, was sentenced by a federal court in Washington to 30 days in prison and a $ 20,000 fine for having lied to the FBI about his contacts with a partner of Paul Manafort, who was chief of Donald Trump campaign. The ruling does not enter into the main part of the investigation by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who seeks to clarify whether the environment of the current president of the United States collaborated with the Kremlin to interfere in the presidential elections of November 2016 in order to favor the arrival to power of the republican.

Van der Zwaan, 33, pleaded guilty last February 20 to lying to federal agents about several contacts between September and October 2016 with the Manafort partner and his number two, Rick Gates, then Trump’s assistant, also involved in the investigation. Manafort and Gates turned themselves in last fall and are accused of a dozen crimes, such as conspiracy against the United States (for hiding their activities and income) and money laundering.

The charges do not refer to the electoral campaign, but to the fact that they acted as agents of the Government of Ukraine and of the party of Victor Yanukovych without having registered it legally. Manafort pleads not guilty.Van der Zwaan, son-in-law of a Russian billionaire, German Khan, was a lawyer at a law firm called Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, located in London between 2007 and 2012, during which the firm worked for Manafort when he was political advisor for Ukraine. Years later, shortly before the election campaign, the young lawyer and Gates established contact with a Russian intelligence agent, identified as "Person A". Zwaan lied about these contacts and, in addition, eliminated documentation (emails) that proved them. "What I did was wrong, I apologize to this court for my behavior and I apologize to my wife and my family for the pain I have caused them," Van der Zwaan said Tuesday before the judge.

Mueller continues his investigation and Trump's own affidavit is on the table. The president has said on more than one occasion that he is willing to do so. The Department of Justice put the case in the hands of a special prosecutor after the president fired the head of the FBI, James Comey, last May, after criticizing his way of carrying the process. His move might have fired back.