Alex van der Zwaan, the Dutch attorney caught up in the Russia probe, reported to a low security Federal prison in Pennsylvania yesterday to begin his 30-day sentence yesterday. He is projected to be released on June 4th.
He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a $20,000 fine after pleading guilty to a felony false-statement charge. He admitted lying to investigators about communications he had in 2016 with Rick Gates and an unnamed person who worked with Gates and Paul Manafort.
Manafort, one time campaign manager for Donald Trump, and Gates, campaign aid, have both been indicted in the Special Counsel’s probe.
Van der Zwaan pleaded guilty in February and asked the court for leniency because his wife Eva, who is the daughter of a Russian oligarch, is pregnant, Politico reports.
His attorneys sought leniency because his wife is pregnant and is due in August, and made clear that they wanted him to begin serving the sentence as soon as possible so he would have a strong chance of making it home to London before his wife delivers.
It’s still unclear whether that will happen. Jackson sought to facilitate van der Zwaan’s getting home by announcing that she would permit him to depart during a two-month probation she ordered to follow his short stint in custody. However, van der Zwaan’s attorneys said at the sentencing that it was possible he could be tied up in the deportation process for months if immigration authorities detained him when his prison sentence was complete.
During the sentencing hearing in April, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Jackson observed that van der Zwaan was inadequately contrite after he made a statement apologizing for his conduct. “The expressions of remorse, even those made on his behalf, were somewhat muted, to say the least,” Judge Jackson said.
Van der Zwaan has the distinction of being the first person in connection with the Special Counsel’s investigation to be imprisoned, although George Papadopoulos was the first to spend time in jail: he spent a night in a detention facility after being arrested at Dulles Airport in July.
The four Americans who have been indicted in the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 election and possible cooperation of the Trump campaign and transition team await sentencing or trials.
- Mike Flynn pleaded guilty to willfully and knowingly making false, fictitious and fraudulent statements to the FBI about interactions with the Russian ambassador Kislyak. You can read the guilty plea and charges here. Flynn’s sentencing was recently delayed.
- George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements regarding his contacts with Russian officials to the FBI. He is a cooperating witness and awaits sentencing.
- Rick Gates pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI and is cooperating with the investigation. He awaits sentencing as well. His plea document can be found here.
- Paul Manafort has pleaded not guilty and faces 305 years in prison for money laundering and bank fraud charges. His trial in Virginia is set for July 10 and a second trial in Washington D.C. is scheduled to begin in September.
Why It Matters
We often hear the Special Counsel’s investigation being called a witch hunt by partisans on the right. But the investigation has netted indictments and guilty pleas for actual crimes. Americans should want to know if crimes were committed and for those committing the crimes to be properly punished. Party politics should not come into play at all and we should all, as law abiding citizens, wait for the conclusion of the investigation and let the chips fall where they may.