George Papadopoulos: Former Trump campaign advisor to be sentenced for lying to FBI in Russia probe

Papadopoulos will be first Trump associate to reach final stage of criminal trial

Emily Shugerman
New York
Friday 07 September 2018 22:25 BST
George Papadopoulos is set to be sentenced Friday for lying to federal investigators
George Papadopoulos is set to be sentenced Friday for lying to federal investigators (George Papadopoulos/LinkedIn)

Former Donald Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos is set to be sentenced for lying to the FBI as part of the federal investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with the president's campaign

Mr Papadopoulos is charged with making false statements to investigators during the probe now led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He pleaded guilty in October to lying to FBI agents about his communication with Russian-linked individuals – including one who allegedly promised the Trump campaign “dirt” on election rival Hillary Clinton.

Lawyers for the former foreign policy advisor have asked for leniency, claiming the 31-year-old was in over his head on the campaign and never intended to derail a federal investigation. They are asking for a sentence of probation, but no jail time.

“[Mr Papadopoulos’s] motives for lying to the FBI were wrongheaded indeed, but far from the sinister spin the government suggests,” his lawyers wrote in a sentencing memo. “Caught off-guard by an impromptu interrogation, Mr Papadopoulos misled investigators to save his professional aspirations and preserve a perhaps misguided loyalty to his master.”

But prosecutors for Mr Mueller have asked for a sentence of six months in prison. They say Mr Papadopoulos thwarted a national security investigation with his false statements, and proved largely unhelpful even after his arrest.

Judge Randolph Moss of the DC District Court will make the ruling on Friday afternoon.

Trump's top lawyer Rudi Guliani says colluding about Russia may not be a crime

Mr Papadopoulos joined the Trump campaign as a foreign policy adviser in March 2016, and quickly began forging relationships with contacts tied to Russia. One of these contacts was Joseph Mifsud, a London-based professor who allegedly promised Mr Papadopoulos incriminating information on Ms Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails”.

Mr Mifsud also introduced the campaign adviser to a woman named Olga, claimed to be a niece of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a man named Ivan Timofeev, who claimed to have a connection to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Prosecutors say Mr Papadopoulos’s false statements to the FBI contributed to their inability to secure an interview with the professor.

According to court documents, Mr Papadopoulos boasted about his contacts at a meeting with Mr Trump and other senior campaign officials, including then- campaign advisor and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He also proposed setting up a meeting between Mr Trump and Mr Putin – a proposal Mr Sessions has said he pushed back against.

Mr Papadopoulos’s lawyers challenged Mr Sessions' version of events in their filing last week, writing: "Mr Trump nodded with approval and deferred to Mr Sessions who appeared to like the idea and stated that the campaign should look into it."

Several other Trump associates have been charged with lying to federal investigators. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents in December, and former campaign official Rick Gates pleaded guilty to the same charge in February. Both men have yet to be sentenced.

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