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Mueller-charged lawyer Alex Van der Zwaan has a curious link to the Steele dossier — and that’s not all

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A London-based attorney has been charged with lying to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators — and this latest development may be more important than it appears at first glance.

Alex Van der Zwaan, the Russian-speaking son-in-law of a Kremlin-linked oligarch, was charged Friday with lying to investigators about conversations related to his trial preparation work for Ukrainian politician Yulia Tymoshenko.

The attorney was accused of lying about his last contact with former Trump campaign associate Rick Gates and another unnamed person, and with destroying emails about the unnamed person in September 2016.

A Tuesday afternoon plea hearing was scheduled for Van der Zwaan.

Circumstantial evidence strongly suggests the unnamed “Person A” in this court filing is Paul Manafort — the longtime business associate of Gates, who has also reportedly agreed to plead guilty in the Mueller probe.

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Manafort, who served as President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, has been charged with money laundering and a variety of other crimes in the special counsel investigation, but he had been suspected of financial crimes dating back to 2014.

Van der Zwaan’s LinkedIn page lists him as an associate in the London office of Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom, where Manafort’s daughter Andrea Manafort Shand previously worked as an attorney.

Court documents show Van der Zwaan said he last spoke with Person A in 2014, when they discussed the unnamed person’s family, but investigators say the attorney recorded a phone call between the pair in September 2016 about legal work for Tymoshenko.

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Van der Zwaan was accused of secretly recording that call and destroying a follow-up email that same month.

He was also accused of lying to FBI and special counsel investigators about his last conversation with Gates, in mid-August 2016.

Van der Zwaan’s father-in-law German Khan is a co-founder of Alfa Bank, which fell under FBI investigation for attempting repeatedly to link up to a computer server in Trump Tower during the presidential campaign.

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FBI investigators concluded the Trump Organization server appeared to be controlled by the marketing firm Cendyn, which was blasting out emails promoting Trump-branded hotel properties.

Khan and Alfa Bank showed up repeatedly in the dossier produced by former British spy Christopher Steele, who misspelled the bank as “Alpha Bank.”

The billionaire Khan, who showed up in a recent list of Russian oligarchs with ties to Vladimir Putin, has sued Steele for libel.


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2020 Election

Democrats are on the verge of setting a ‘time bomb’ for any candidate who can defeat Trump

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If a new president takes over the White House in January 2021, he or she may quickly find that the Democratic Party that just won control of the executive branch left a loaded gun in the hands of the Republicans, who are all too eager to use it.

That should be the takeaway from reports about the budget negotiations between the House Democrats and the Trump administration. According to Bloomberg reporter Sahil Kapur, the parties are coalescing around an agreement to raise spending by $350 billion, offset that increase somewhat with about $75 billion, and extend the debt ceiling — now set to expire in the fall — to July 31, 2021.

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Trump’s USDA plans to take 3 million Americans off of food stamps

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The US Department of Agriculture will propose a rule on Tuesday that would strengthen restrictions on food stamp recipients -- cutting approximately 3.1 million Americans from the program, according to Reuters.

Currently, 43 U.S. states allow residents to automatically become eligible for food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, if they receive benefits from another federal program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, according to the USDA.

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Teeth ‘time capsule’ reveals that 2 million years ago, early humans breastfed for up to 6 years

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Humans’ distant ancestor Australopithecus africanus had a unique approach to raising their young, as shown in our new research published today in Nature.

Geochemical analysis of four teeth shows they exclusively breastfed infants for about 6-9 months, before supplementing breast milk with varying amounts of solid food until they were 5-6 years old. The balance between milk and solid food in this period varied cyclically, probably in response to seasonal changes in food availability.

Read more: How we calculated the age of caves in the Cradle of Humankind -- and why it matters

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