Ex-Trump campaign aide jailed in Russian Federation probe

Hannah Rogers
September 11, 2018

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty past year for making a "materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement" to investigators during FBI's probe of Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election.

Papadopoulos told The Times that he believed the Mueller investigation, in which three other former Trump advisers now await sentencing for their crimes, was legitimate and fair-minded.

Within weeks, he made contact with a mysterious professor, Joseph Mifsud, who touted links to the Kremlin and introduced him to others who ostensibly had connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin - including a woman who claimed to be Putin's niece.

He said in court that his "entire life has been turned upside down" and he hoped "for a second chance to redeem myself". Told the campaign's priority was to improve relations with Russian Federation, within weeks Papadopoulos made contact with a mysterious professor, Joseph Mifsud, who touted links to the Kremlin.

One of those unusual encounters was in April 2016, when Papadopoulos met Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud, who told him that the Russians had "thousands of emails" about Clinton.

In the following months, thousands of emails linked to the Clinton campaign were published by Wikileaks.

George Papadopoulos is the first former campaign aide to be sentenced in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation. Jeff Sessions "appeared to also like the idea and stated that the campaign should look into it". Sessions' attorney Chuck Cooper said the attorney general "stands by his testimony" about his recollection of the meeting with Trump's foreign policy team.

US 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. He said Papadopoulos was "riding very high" at the time he lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and that the defendant "had a lot of advantages in life".

While Moss cut short that argument, he stressed the importance of the investigation to the integrity of American democracy.

When the Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed Papadopoulos in January 2017, he falsely claimed he had met two individuals with Russian ties before he joined the president's team in March 2016.

Complicating these denials, Papadopoulos admitted that he told a senior Greek official about the Russian dirt while visiting the country on a trip authorized by the Trump campaign.

No sweat! Djokovic admits 2018 US Open toughest mission
Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. "It was not a tennis match at the end". And he revealed afterwards that he had felt a sharp pain in his knee as early as the fifth game.

In July 2018, the US Department of Justice charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking Democratic officials. His sentencing Friday made clear he had barely been a cooperator in the investigation, yet had serious contact with Russia's affiliates in Europe as they tried to lure the Trump campaign.

Partly as a result, they said, agents were unable to "effectively question" Misfud when he visited the United States two weeks later.

His case was the first to detail a member of the Trump campaign having knowledge of Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 USA presidential election while it was ongoing.

It referred to him as a key figure to have evaded the Mueller inquiry.

"I made a bad mistake for which I paid dearly and I am terribly ashamed", Papadopoulos said at his sentencing hearing.

"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", the statement said.

Judge Randolph Moss said he took the "genuine remorse" into consideration for the sentencing.

Papadopoulos initially made this stunning claim in a court filing last week, where he asked the judge for a lenient sentence with no prison time. His judge referred to his regret as "muted".

Prosecutor Andrew Goldstein said Friday in court that Papadopoulos "deliberately and repeatedly lied to FBI agents pursuing a highly significant federal investigation", making a calculated decision "to advance his personal interests" to try to land a high-level administration post.

"The President of the United States hindered this investigation more than George Papadopoulos ever did", Breen said. Breen noted that Trump was already calling the allegations of Russian election interference "fake news" and a "political witch hunt" - terms he continues to use for the Mueller probe.

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