While it is still unclear what role Trump himself played in his campaign’s collusion with Russian intelligence services, it has become beyond clear that certain individuals on his campaign were definitely compromised. Michael Flynn and his son, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Trump Jr, and others have all been directly implicated, sometimes by themselves, in crimes or actions associated with participation in various plots to undermine our democracy.
Trump’s team has maintained that the investigation is a “witch hunt,” repeatedly attacking everyone associated with it. Trump allies have repeatedly called new revelations “nothingburgers,” even as those nothingburgers result in criminal charges for Trump compatriots. Now, the first sentencing and actual jail time has been handed down in the investigation.
A 33-year-old Dutch lawyer, Alex van der Zwaan, was sentenced to a month in prison for lying to investigators about his contacts with Rick Gates. Van der Zwaan, the 19th person to be charged in connection to the investigation, attempted to delete relevant emails and lie about his contact with “Person A,” who is as yet unnamed but thought to be a Russian intelligence operative. He pled guilty a month ago:
Van der Zwaan also happens to speak Russian, and he’s the son-in-law of German Khan, a Russian billionaire oligarch and co-founder of Alfa Bank, the largest non-state bank in Russia.
‘According to court documents, Van der Zwaan “wilfully and knowingly” made false statements to investigators while answering questions about a report prepared in 2012 by his former law firm for the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice on the trial of Yulia Tymoshenko.
‘Ms Tymoshenko, a former Ukrainian prime minister, was jailed in 2011 over a gas deal with Russia, in charges she said were politically motivated.
‘Mr Mueller’s indictment said Van der Zwaan “deleted and otherwise did not produce emails sought by the special counsel’s office” and made a false statement about when he was last in contact with Mr Gates and “Person A”, who has not been identified. Person A is noted as a long-term business associate of Mr Gates and Mr Manafort.’
That means there was almost certainly a line of communication from the Trump campaign to Russian officials. In all likelihood, there was likely multiple. It’s not yet clear that the different compromised parts of the Trump campaign were actually working with one another. Jared Kushner could have been working his own money angle, Manafort could be up to his usual scummy tricks and trying to get out of a mountain of debt, and Trump could just be desperate for attention from Vlad.
Yet there are some interesting questions to be asked. First, if Gates has flipped, and multiple other arrests have been made in relation to him, Manafort is looking more and more screwed. Yet, he won’t take a plea deal and continues to fight the charges. Why? Well, clearly he’s in too deep to try and get out now. That’s what a lifetime of criminal behavior gets you.
More interesting, though, is Trump. Why does Trump continue to attack the investigation? It’s obviously bore fruit, and continues to do so. If Trump is truly innocent and knew nothing of Manafort, or Flynn, or Gates, or Papadopoulos, or Trump Jr’s emails, and on and on, why does he continually act so guilty?
Featured image via Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images