George Papadopoulos, former Trump campaign adviser, sentenced to 2 weeks in prison

September 7, 2018

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos was sentenced Friday to two weeks in prison for lying to investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Papadopoulos, 31, is the second person charged in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation to be sentenced.

Attorneys for Papadopoulos had sought to avoid prison, instead requesting probation. Federal prosecutors with the special counsel’s office had asked Judge Randolph Moss for a sentence of up to six months in prison.

In court filings, Mueller’s team claimed Papadopoulos’ lies “caused damage” caused damage to the government’s Russian collusion investigation. They said his sentence should reflect that “lying to federal investigators has real consequences, especially where the defendant lied to investigators about critical facts in an investigation of national importance.”

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in October to lying to the FBI about his dealings with Joseph Mifsud, a London-based professor who told him in 2016 that Russia had damaging information on President Trump’s campaign rival, Hillary Clinton.

During his January 2017 interview with the FBI, Papadopoulos misled investigators about when he was told Russia allegedly had dirt on Ms. Clinton. He said at least a dozen times he learned of it before joining the campaign, according to court documents.

Papadopoulos’ attorneys said in court papers their client is “ashamed and remorseful,” but they insisted his lies did not harm the Russia investigation.

Defense counsel in their filings painted Papadopoulos as a naive and eager campaign aid who sought to impress the Trump campaign by setting up a meeting with campaign officials and Russia to discuss whatever Russia allegedly had on Ms. Clinton.

“Out of loyalty to the new president and his desire to be part of the administration, he hoisted himself upon his own petard,” they wrote.

J.D. Gordon, former National Security Adviser for the Trump campaign, echoed similar sentiments, while blasting the Mueller probe.

“While its true that George made some political rookie mistakes on the campaign and afterwards it’s important to remember that he’s the victim here,” Gordon said. “The Trump-Russia scandal has always been politically motivated witch hunt and shakedown of the president and his team, past and present.”

Mr. Trump addressed the sentencing Friday ahead of a campaign rally in North Dakota, in an attempt to distance himself from his onetime campaign adviser.

“I see Papadopoulos today,” he told reporters aboard Air Force One. “I don’t know Papadopoulos. I don’t him. I saw him sitting at one picture at a table. That’s the only thing I know about him. I don’t know him. But they got him on, I guess, a couple of lies.”

The only other defendant in the Russia probe who has been sentenced is Dutch attorney Alexander Van der Zwaan. He pleaded guilty in February to lying to the FBI about his communications with Rick Gates, a business associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was also under investigation.

Van der Zwaan was sentenced to 30 days in a Pennsylvania prison and received a $20,000 fine. He has since been deported after completing his term.

Manafort, who was convicted last month on bank and tax fraud charges, will be sentenced in December.

Rowan Scarborough contributed to this story.