Mueller recommends up to 6 months for ex-Trump campaign aide Papadopoulos

by Garry Watts August 21, 2018, 1:00
Mueller recommends up to 6 months for ex-Trump campaign aide Papadopoulos

Prosecutors said Friday that a sentence of up to six months in prison would be appropriate for George Papadopoulos, a former adviser to President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and the first charged defendant to cooperate in special counsel Robert Mueller III's investigation of Russian interference in the US election.

Papadopoulos is scheduled to be sentenced on September 7.

Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, pleaded guilty in October to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about meetings with individuals closely associated with the Russian government during the campaign.

The Maltese professor who gained worldwide notoriety as the person who allegedly connected Trump's campaign with the Russians to destroy rival contestant Hillary Clinton may have escaped the United States and thus an FBI investigation due to lies told by Trump's ex aide.

According to Mueller's sentencing memorandum to the judge, Papadopoulos lied about his contacts with people who claimed to have ties to top Russian officials, including his meeting with a professor who said Russia had "dirt" on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

"Instead of telling the truth, however, the defendant repeatedly lied throughout the interview in order to hide the timing and significance of information the defendant had received regarding the Russians possessing "dirt" on Hillary Clinton, as well as his own outreach to Russia on behalf of the campaign", Mueller said in the filing. Mueller wrote in Friday's filing that Papadopoulos "was explicitly notified of the seriousness of the ongoing investigation", and warned by the special counsel's prosecutors "that lying to investigators was a "federal offense" that could get him "in trouble", Politico reported.

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One of the Russian contacts that Papadopoulos misled investigators about communicating with was Joseph Mifsud, a Kremlin-linked professor in London who allegedly reached out to Papadopoulos on behalf of Russia. "The defendant's false statements were meant to harm the investigation, and did so". Mifsud, who "has not returned to the United States" since February 2017, has not been publicly charged with a crime.

The filing suggests Papadopoulos hampered the FBI's ability to figure that out.

Papadopoulos did, however, refer to the Russian dirt during a conversation he had in a London bar in May 2016 with the senior Australian diplomat in Britain. Papadopoulos said wrongly several times he had communicated with Mifsud before he joined the Trump campaign.

One of the big mysteries is who in the Trump campaign Papadopoulos may have told about the Russians allegedly possessing Clinton-related emails.

It says he was warned about the seriousness of the investigation and that he might have important information to provide.

Separately, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort faces charges of bank and tax fraud in the first trial stemming from the inquiry into alleged Russian meddling. In April, a judge sentenced him to 30 days in prison.

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