1. STILL Alex van der Zwaan arriving at the courthouse
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Eric Tucker, Associated Press Justice Department Reporter:
"Today we had another guilty plea in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. This is a lawyer. His name is Alex van der Zwaan. He admitted to lying to federal investigators during an interview in November 2017."
3. STILL Alex van der Zwaan arriving at the courthouse
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Eric Tucker, Associated Press Justice Department Reporter:
"This is the 19th person that we've seen charged so far in Mueller's investigation. This is a person who lied to the FBI about his interactions with Rick Gates, who is a codefendant of Paul Manafort, who is the former campaign chairman of President Donald Trump."
5. STILL Alex van der Zwaan arriving at the courthouse
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Eric Tucker, Associated Press Justice Department Reporter:
"He went into the special counsel's office back in November 2017 to be interviewed about his interactions with Rick Gates in connection with the production of a report that related to foreign lobbying work, Ukrainian lobbying work, that Rick Gates and Paul Manafort were doing. And during the course of that conversation he was asked about the last interaction he had with Rick Gates. He lied in that interview according to Mueller's investigators."
7. Mid, van der Zwaan exiting the courthouse and getting into a car
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Eric Tucker, Associated Press Justice Department Reporter:
"So one thing that's really interesting is when you think about the timing of this investigation, this comes right on the heels of a stunning indictment that we had last Friday against 13 Russians and 3 Russian companies in connection to a hidden but very powerful social media effort that Mueller says was aimed at denigrating Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election and aiding the campaign of her Republican opponent Donald Trump."
9. Mid, car driving away
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Eric Tucker, Associated Press Justice Department Reporter:
"The plea today does not relate to the indictment from Friday about the meddling in the 2016 presidential election. And it doesn't directly connect in any way to President Trump or Candidate Trump."
11. STILL van der Zwaan leaving the courthouse
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Eric Tucker, Associated Press Justice Department Reporter:
"But I would say what's really interesting now is this is the fourth person who we have seen charged with lying to investigators. So clearly Mueller is saying if you lie to us, and if we catch you in a lie making a knowing and false and willfully false statement, not just a mistake but a willfully false statement, you could wind up being prosecuted."
13. STILL van der Zwaan leaving the courthouse
14. SOUNDBITE (English) Eric Tucker, Associated Press Justice Department Reporter:
"Alex van der Zwaan is going to be sentenced in April. He was free today, he was allowed to go, allowed to leave the courtroom."
15. STILL van der Zwaan leaving the courthouse
16.SOUNDBITE (English) Eric Tucker, Associated Press Justice Department Reporter:
"That charge that he is pleading guilty to, a charge of making false statements to investigators, technically carries a five year maximum prison sentence. However, under the sentencing guideline ranges that were discussed in court today he's looking at between zero months and six months in prison."
An attorney linked to a former Trump campaign official admitted Tuesday he lied to federal investigators working for special counsel Robert Mueller.
Alex van der Zwaan, who worked at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom until he was fired last year, appeared at the federal courthouse in Washington where he formally pleaded guilty to a single charge of making false statements about his interactions with former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates.
Associated Press reporter Eric Tucker says Mueller is sending a clear message that he won't tolerate lying. This is the 4th person to be prosecuted for lying to investigators.
Van der Zwaan's plea comes on the heels of an extraordinary indictment from Mueller last week that charged 13 Russian individuals and three Russian companies in a hidden social media effort to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election by denigrating Democrat Hillary Clinton and boosting the chances of Trump.
But the charge against the attorney, who is also the son-in-law of a Russian billionaire, does not involve election meddling or relate to the Trump campaign's operations. Instead, it stems from the special counsel's investigation into Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chair, and Gates, who is a longtime business associate of Manafort.
Gates and Manafort were indicted last year and accused of conspiring to launder millions of dollars they earned from political consulting work in Ukraine. As part of that indictment, Manafort and Gates are accused of directing a covert Washington lobbying campaign on behalf of pro-Russian Ukrainian interests before they joined the Trump campaign. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Van der Zwaan, 33, of London admitted to lying to federal authorities while they questioned him about the production of a report that Manafort and Gates are accused of secretly funding by funneling money through an offshore account.