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DOJ Announces Civil Settlement With Law Firm Used By Paul Manafort to Undermine Pro-Western Ukrainian Leaders; Skadden to relinquish $4.6 million received for foreign influence campaign, register under FARA

**DOJ Documents:**

* [Press Release](

* [Settlement Agreement]( (44-page PDF)

**Background of the Investigation:**

>According to the Agreement, in the spring of 2012, Ukraine, Ministry of Justice (MOJ), with the assistance of Paul Manafort, hired Skadden to write a report (Report) on the evidence and procedures used during the 2011 prosecution and trial of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and to address various questions regarding its fairness. Skadden also agreed to advise Ukraine in connection with a second, potential future prosecution of Tymoshenko. **Although the engagement letter between Skadden and the MOJ stated that Skadden would be paid its customary fees and expenses, the contract Skadden signed with the MOJ, and which the MOJ made public, stated that the law firm would be paid only 95,000 Ukrainian hryvynas, which is approximately $12,000. Skadden understood that a Ukrainian business person would be paying its fees, which the law firm received from a Cypriot bank account of an entity named Black Sea View Ltd., which Manafort controlled.** Skadden was eventually paid $4,657,568.91 for its work on behalf of the MOJ. The arrangements with the Ukrainian business person, the amounts paid, and advice on a second criminal prosecution of Tymoshenko were not disclosed in connection with the issuance of the Report.

>Soon after it began work for the MOJ, Skadden became aware that Ukraine intended to use the Report as part of a public relations campaign to influence U.S. policy and public opinion toward Ukraine. After that point, **Skadden’s lead partner for the Ukraine engagement took steps to advance the public relations campaign. In the fall of 2012, shortly after a meeting in New York with Manafort and a representative from Ukraine’s public relations firm to finalize the Report and discuss the media strategy for its rollout, the lead partner contacted a journalist at a national newspaper and asked whether the journalist would take a call from a lobbyist for Ukraine about the Report in advance of its release.** Then, shortly before Ukraine released the report on December 13, 2012, the lead partner again contacted the journalist and arranged for delivery of the Report to the journalist, both via email and in person. On December 12, 2012, the lead partner spoke with the national newspaper about the Report and provided a quotation for attribution.

>The lead partner’s pre-release outreach to the journalist was consistent with Ukraine’s media strategy for the Report, which including leaking the Report prior to its official release so as to “effectively set the agenda for subsequent coverage.”

>FARA requires those in the U.S. who engage in political activities on behalf of foreign principals, which include foreign governments, to make a variety of written public disclosures to the Department of Justice. Based on its awareness of and involvement in Ukraine’s public relations campaign, Skadden had an obligation to register with the Department of Justice under FARA, but it failed to do so. If Skadden had registered, it would have had to disclose, among other things, the full amount it was being paid, the source of those payments, and the full scope of the work it was doing on behalf of the MOJ.

>Five days after news articles appeared about the Report, the FARA Unit sent Skadden a letter, seeking information about its activities on behalf of Ukraine in order to assist the FARA Unit in determining whether Skadden had a registration obligation. This was the first of several requests for information the FARA Unit made to Skadden.

>**In both written and oral responses to the FARA Unit between February 6, 2013, and October 11, 2013, Skadden, in reliance on the lead partner, made false and misleading statements** including, among other things, that Skadden provided a copy of the Report only in response to requests from the media and spoke to the media to correct misinformation about the report that the media was already reporting. The firm also submitted documents to the FARA unit that were false.

>The FARA Unit made a determination that Skadden did not have a registration obligation in connection with its work for Ukraine, and **it based that conclusion on the false and misleading information Skadden had provided**. Before making its representations to the FARA Unit, Skadden had conducted no investigation to confirm the information the lead partner was providing to the FARA Unit and to other partners at the firm.

>The investigation and negotiation of the Agreement was handled by Jason B.A. McCullough, a Trial Attorney in the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, which includes the FARA Registration Unit, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Counterintelligence Division.

**News Coverage:**

* [Skadden Law Firm to Pay $4.6 Million to U.S. Over Manafort Work]( (Bloomberg)

* [Skadden law firm, linked to Manafort, settles U.S. foreign agent violations]( (Reuters)

* [Skadden Arps Settles With DOJ Over Manafort Ukraine Dealings]( (TPM)


* [Alex van der Zwaan: Work on Skadden Arps’ Ukrainian report, and criminal conviction](’_Ukrainian_report,_and_criminal_conviction) (Wikipedia)

>Van der Zwaan, who speaks Russian, was one of the eight attorneys who worked on Skadden Arps’s 2012 report, commissioned by the government of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych via Paul Manafort, that defended the prosecution, conviction and imprisonment of Yanukovych’s rival, the country’s former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Van der Zwaan traveled to Ukraine to work on the report, and served as rule-of-law consultant to the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine. Former United States ambassador to Ukraine John E. Herbst said in a 2017 interview that Skadden Arps “should have been ashamed” of the report, calling it “a nasty piece of work”.

>Special Counsel investigation prosecutor Andrew Weissmann stated in February 2018 that, as part of Manafort’s and Rick Gates’s lobbying effort to improve Yanukovych’s reputation in the United States, Van der Zwaan took an advance copy of the report in late July or early August 2012, without authorization, and provided it to a public-relations firm working for the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice—with one aim being to get the report published in The New York Times—and in September 2012 provided Gates with talking points about the report.Prosecutors also said Van der Zwaan deleted emails sought by the special counsel’s office—such as emails between him and Manafort associate “Person A”, including one requesting that Van der Zwaan use encrypted communications and one from September 2016—rather than turning them over to Skadden Arps, which was gathering documents for the special counsel.

>In an interview with special counsel prosecutors and FBI agents Van der Zwaan said that his last communication with Gates was an innocuous text in mid-August 2016 and that his last contact with Person A was a 2014 discussion of Person A’s family; prosecutors determined instead that he had discussed the 2012 Skadden Arps report with Gates and Person A in September 2016 during phone calls that he surreptitiously recorded. Van der Zwaan acknowledged to special counsel investigators in an interview that Gates had told him of Person A’s ties to the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), a Russian military intelligence agency.

>On February 20, 2018, Van der Zwaan pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to investigators. In his plea he admitted to email deletions, and to lying when he told investigators that he had only a “passive role in the rollout of the report”. The guilty plea did not include an agreement to cooperate with the Mueller investigation.

>Also on February 20, 2018, Skadden Arps released a statement that Van der Zwaan had been fired from the law firm in 2017.

>At his sentencing hearing held on April 3, 2018, he was sentenced to 30 days in prison followed by two months of supervised release, and fined $20,000.

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