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Alex Van Der Zwaan's links to Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort.
Paul Manafort. Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Alex Van Der Zwaan, who was charged in Special Counsel Bob Mueller's probe Friday with making false statements to the FBI, has ties to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his business partner, Rick Gates.

The links: According to the New York Times, Manafort arranged five years ago for a New York-based law firm to draft a report on how Manafort's client, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, was justified in his prosecution of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Manafort was tasked with recruiting Van Der Zwaan to write that report, and Van Der Zwaan worked for Skadden at the time it was drafting the report, per Bloomberg.

  • Note: At the time, critics said the prosecution of Tymoshenko was based on political motives and without sufficient evidence.

Why it matters, per the NYT: "The request comes at a time when Mr. Manafort, his work for Mr. Yanukovych’s party and for Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs as well as the handling of payments for that work have become focal points" in Mueller's Russia probe.

Other details, as outlined in the NYT:

  • In 2012, the Justice Department began requesting information about Skadden’s Ukrainian work. The requests "came after Ukrainian prosecutors asked their American counterparts for assistance in pursuing an inquiry into alleged illegal spending by Mr. Yanukovych’s government."
  • "That inquiry included payments to Skadden, though the Ukrainians have not accused the firm of any crime."
  • "The Ukrainians nonetheless requested that the Justice Department question Mr. Manafort and Skadden’s lead lawyer on the case, Gregory B. Craig, who had served as President Barack Obama’s White House counsel."
  • Less than a year after the report was filed, Yanukovych fled Ukraine.
  • Ukraine's general prosecutor's office requested the FBI and DOJ in the U.S. aid in investigating Yanukovych's justice minister, Oleksandr Lavrynovych, although "neither the Justice Department nor the F.B.I. had responded to the requests as recently as March" last year.
Haley Britzky 2 hours ago
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DOJ eyeing tool to allow access to encrypted data on smartphones

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images

The Justice Department is in "a preliminary stage" of discussions about requiring tech companies building "tools into smartphones and other devices" that would allow law enforcement investigators to access encrypted data, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: This has been on the FBI's mind since 2010, and last month the White House "circulated a memo...outlining ways to think about solving the problem," officials told the Times. Both FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, support finding ways for law enforcement to access data without compromising devices security.

Haley Britzky 2 hours ago
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Media tycoon Barry Diller talks #MeToo

 IAC & Expedia, Inc. Chairman & Senior Executive Barry Diller
IAC & Expedia, Inc. Chairman & Senior Executive Barry Diller. Photo: Cindy Ord / Getty Images for Yahoo

Barry Diller, chairman of mega-media and Internet company IAC, told the New York Times he thinks "all men are guilty," when it comes to "the spectrum" of the #MeToo movement.

"I hope in the future for some form of reconciliation. Because I think all men are guilty. I’m not talking about rape and pillage. I’m not talking about Harveyesque. I’m talking about all of the spectrum. From an aggressive flirt. Or even just a flirty-flirt that has one sour note in it. Or what I think every man was guilty of, some form of omission in attitude, in his views."

Why it matters: The #MeToo movement has rocked Hollywood and the media industry. Diller told the Times he sees the effects of this "in our companies, where the relationships between people are changing."