Mueller's office defends deal with Dutch lawyer to waive public records rights

Special counsel Robert Mueller's office is defending an agreement it made with a Dutch lawyer tied to former Trump de...

Posted: Apr 3, 2018 1:02 AM
Updated: Apr 3, 2018 1:03 AM

Special counsel Robert Mueller's office is defending an agreement it made with a Dutch lawyer tied to former Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates to waive his right to request public records.

In a new court filing, prosecutors make clear that Alex van der Zwaan knows key details about Mueller's ongoing investigation.

"Van der Zwaan is in an unusual position of having information related to the office's investigation that is not widely known -- including information that he knows first-hand due to his role in the conduct the Office is investigating," the filing on Monday morning says.

Last week, prosecutors revealed that van der Zwaan was privy to fall 2016 communications between Gates and a person with ties to the Russian military intelligence service, and that his knowledge of those communications was relevant to the investigation.

Van der Zwaan's forfeiture of his Freedom of Information Act ability prevents him from interfering with the Mueller investigation by requesting documents from it, tipping others off to "investigative facts that are otherwise not known" and burdening the office with freedom of information tasks, the prosecutors told the judge Monday. The filing notes "the scarce resources of the special counsel's office" and how it may face "drain" if asked to "assemble records and to help explain to others both their significance and the potential that their release could harm the ongoing investigation."

Van der zwaan is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday in Washington at 10 a.m. ET in the first case in Mueller's investigation to reach that stage. The Dutch lawyer pleaded guilty to lying to Mueller's team in February, and likely faces up to six months in prison.

The special counsel told the court they are discussing van der Zwaan's waiving of his FOIA rights because the same judge drew attention to a similar agreement with Gates.

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