Former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos sentenced to 14 days in plea deal with Mueller probe
08 September, 2018, 19:57
"I made a terrible mistake but I am a good man".
A once low-profile foreign policy campaign adviser whose offhand remark in a London bar in May 2016 helped trigger an FBI counterintelligence investigation into President Trump's campaign was sentenced to 14 days incarceration Friday by a federal judge in Washington.
The 31-year-old, who was also ordered to pay a $9,500 fine and perform community service, is the first person to be sentenced in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian Federation election interference.
Professor Joseph Mifsud gained worldwide notoriety as the person who allegedly connected Trump's campaign with the Russians to destroy rival contestant Hillary Clinton and may have escaped the United States due to lies told by Papadopoulos.
At the time, Trump and the White House sought to distance themselves from the former campaign foreign policy adviser, with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claiming he'd had an "extremely limited" role on the campaign. "Judge Randy Moss emphasized that there's "no reason to think the Federal Bureau of Investigation bamboozled" Papadopoulos, and he said his lies were not meant to boost Russian Federation but to serve his own self-interest of getting a job in the Trump White House". He hasn't returned since.
He told the US District Court in Washington DC: "I made a awful mistake for which I paid dearly and I am terribly ashamed".
"I wanted to distance myself as much as possible - and Trump himself and the campaign - from what was probably an illegal action or unsafe information", he said.
But the attorney said "the president of the United States hindered this investigation more than Papadopoulos ever could".
That account conflicts with what Sessions, now attorney general, testified before Congress. He said his client doesn't recall telling anybody connected with the Trump campaign about Mifsud's offer of Clinton dirt.
USA investigators were only alerted to Papadopoulos's activities in mid-2016 after he told Australia's ambassador to London, Alexander Downer, about his talks with Mifsud during a late-night drinking session in a London pub.
Papadopoulos, 31, was also fined US$9,500 and ordered to complete 200 hours of community service as well as 12 months of supervised release.
"The defendant's lies undermined investigators' ability to challenge the Professor or potentially detain or arrest him while he was still in the United States", they wrote, noting that Mifsud left the USA in February 2017 and hasn't returned.
"Judge said he believed Papadopoulos was genuinely remorseful but didn't agree to a probation sentence because he needed to send a message about the seriousness of lying to the FBI", Cheney wrote in a subsequent tweet.
The $28 million price tag cited by Mr. Trump is likely a reference to the cost of the Mueller probe. In a court filing August 31, Papadopoulos's lawyers painted him as a political newcomer "eager to show his value to the campaign", and quickly got in over his head.
As noted by USA Today, authorities thought that Papadopoulos could serve as a key informant, but it quickly became clear that was not the case. His case was also the first to detail a member of the Trump campaign having knowledge of Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election while it was ongoing. However, they wrote, the claim that his lies harmed the investigation are "speculative and contrary to the evidence".
Prosecutors say Mifsud arranged a meeting in London cafe between Papadopoulos and a young woman he falsely described as Russian President Vladimir Putin's niece.
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