Robert Mueller Recommends Prison Sentence for Papadopoulos

Simona Mangiante in Chicago

Special Counsel Robert Mueller recommended in a court filing late on Friday that a judge sentence former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos to up to six months in prison for lying to federal agents investigating whether Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 US presidential election.

Greek American George Papadopoulos, a former member of the foreign policy advisory panel to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, could face up to six months in jail.

Mueller said in a court filing with a federal judge on Friday that Papadopoulos' "crime was serious and caused damage to the government's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election".

"The government does not take a position with respect to a particular sentence to be imposed, but respectfully submits that a sentence of incarceration, within the applicable Guidelines range of 0 to 6 months' imprisonment, is appropriate and warranted", Mueller wrote.

The special counsel's office also said that Papadopoulos has failed to provide "substantial assistance", to their investigators - which might have warranted leniency - and that he participated in a media interview without its knowledge in December 2017, prompting prosecutors to cancel an interview where he was to answer further questions. In April, a judge sentenced him to 30 days in prison. Mifsud had told Papadopoulos the Russians had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.

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.

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The FBI would have arrested or at least questioned an elusive Maltese professor who claimed to know in April of 2016 that Russian Federation had "dirt" on Democrat Hillary Clinton, in the form of "thousands" of stolen emails, but the investigators missed the professor because George Papadopoulos lied to them repeatedly. The only defendant to be sentenced is lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, who pleaded guilty to making false statements about his conversations with a former Trump campaign official.

"He lied repeatedly over the course of more than two hours, and his lies were created to hide facts he knew were critical", the court filing says.

In his guilty plea, Papadopoulos admitted that he had lied to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents during a February 2017 interview and misled them about interactions he had with Mifsud and his Russian contacts.

"The defendant's false statements were meant to harm the investigation, and did so", the government's filing says. They reminded Papadopoulos several times in that interview that he should not lie and could be prosecuted if he did, the filing said. Mueller's filing suggests that Papadopoulos could get less than six months.

The government alleges Papadopoulos' duplicity hindered investigators' ability to interview key players, including a professor who may have been an intermediary for the Russian government.

The diplomat passed along the information to US officials, setting the investigation into motion.

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