Mueller recommends 6-month sentence for Papadopoulos

Simona Mangiante in Chicago

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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 USA presidential election.

"Mueller's sentencing memo says that Papadopoulos" crime was serious, and that his lies damaged the government's investigation.

Mueller's prosecutors declined to recommend a specific sentence for Papadopoulos ahead of a hearing set for September 7, but they said "a sentence of incarceration, within the applicable Guidelines range of 0 to 6 months' imprisonment, is appropriate and warranted".

Papadopoulos never signed a formal cooperation agreement, and no promise was made to recommend a break on a sentencing.

Muller also told the judge that Papadopoulos had not fully cooperated with prosecutors.

The Mueller team set the record straight on Friday.

In a signed plea agreement October 5, Papadopoulos, 31, and prosecutors agreed he faced zero to six months under federal guidelines if he cooperated, committed no further crimes and had no other criminal history.

Mueller said the government believed a sentence of up to six months in prison was "appropriate and warranted" along with a fine of $9,500.

Mueller said in the filing that Papadopoulos lied about his interactions with a suspected Russian agent, described in the filing as "the professor". Mifsud had told Papadopoulos the Russians had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. Last October, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to charges of lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding his contacts with Russian operatives during the Trump campaign - including at least one meeting where he was offered thousands of emails meant to damage Hillary Clinton's campaign.

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Papadopoulos eventually pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and agreed to cooperate in the Russian Federation probe.

Her stance marked a turnabout from January, when she told The Washington Post that Papadopoulos would be remembered like John Dean, the former White House counsel who pleaded guilty to his role in the Watergate coverup and then became a key witness against other aides to President Richard M. Nixon.

But according to Mueller in the court document, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation sat Papadopoulos down for a two-hour interrogation on January 27, 2017, the former Trump adviser "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", according to a report by Politico.

Papdopoulos was "explicitly notified" of the seriousness of his interrogation but lied repeatedly in multiple interviews, according to prosecutors, who said they did not "definitively know" his motivation.

"The defendant's false statements were meant to harm the investigation, and did so", the government's filing says. He received 30 days in prison.

The filing of the sentencing recommendation by prosecutors could suggest they no longer need assistance from the young oil and gas consultant.

According to that indictment, by April 2016, the Russian intelligence operatives had already stolen emails from several Democratic groups including the Clinton campaign and were beginning to plan how they were going to release the documents.

On the same day as his interview, Papadopoulos applied for a deputy assistant secretary position in Trump's Department of Energy, according to the filing.

"The defendant's lies also hindered the government's ability to discover who else may have known or been told about the Russians possessing "dirt" on Clinton", the document says.

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