On April 3, Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan was sentenced to 30 days in prison, accompanied by a $20,000 fine – consequences arising from his guilty plea of lying to investigators and refusing to turn in emails for review.
Van der Zwaan had prior knowledge of lobbyist Rick Gates’ communication with Russia during the 2016 presidential election, according to Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the case. He worked alongside Gates and Paul Manafort, former manager and current member of the Trump campaign.
“This is not something that happened to him,” Judge Jackson said. “This is something he did. He put his personal interest ahead of the interest of justice.”
Van der Zwaan’s crimes led him to a maximum of five years behind bars and a hefty fine of $250,000. However, federal recommendations predicted his sentence to be under six months.
In May of 2017, a special counsel investigation began in order to evaluate Russian interference in the election of 2016, between now-leader-of-the-free-world Donald J. Trump and Secretary Hillary Clinton. Led by the United States Special Counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the probe into a collusion has now indicted 13 Russians for involvement through social media and received five guilty pleas from men including George Papadopoulos and Paul Manafort, according to CNN.
Currently, the probe is investigating a multitude of events along the timeline of the election. Their portfolio includes a meeting at Trump Tower in June of 2016. Members of the Trump team in attendance were Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Donald Trump, Jr. Their company was made suspicious by the presence of Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and former Soviet army officer Rinat Akhmetshin.
Thousands have been praising Mueller and his team for their work surrounding the collusion between the Trump administration and Russian officials.
“We count on people to tell us the truth,” said Andrew Weissman, a prosecutor on Mueller’s team. “There are consequences for withholding documents and lying to the government.”
Alex van der Zwaan’s prison sentence is the first to come from the special counsel investigation, although many more are expected to follow.