Mueller recommends prison sentence for ex-Trump aide


Special Counsel Robert Mueller recommended in a court filing 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.

In particular, the document said that during a January 2017 interview with the FBI, Papadopoulos misled agents about his conversations with Joseph Mifsud, a London-based professor who investigators believe reached out to Papadopoulos on behalf of the Russian government.

"The defendant lied in order to hide his contacts with Russians and Russian intermediaries during the campaign", the filing said.

In October, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to Mueller and his team - which, according to Politico, made him the first to plead guilty in the Mueller investigation. The professor allegedly told Papadopoulos that the Russians had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails".

According to his plea agreement, Papadopoulos admitted to lying about the timing of his contacts with a professor, Joseph Mifsud, in London. Papadopoulos said wrongly several times he had communicated with Mifsud before he joined the Trump campaign.

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"Much of the information provided by the defendant came only after the government confronted him with his own emails, text messages, internet search history, and other information it had obtained via search warrants and subpoenas well after the defendant's FBI interview as the government continued its investigation", the filing says.

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.

Mueller wrote in the filing that Papadopoulos chose to lie to federal investigators during a voluntary interview and that he "was expressly warned that it is a crime to lie to federal investigators".

Friday's 10-page filing provided fresh details of how Papadopoulos' lies impeded the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to prosecutors, who went on to say his lack of cooperation justified a prison term. His lies were not momentary lapses.

"Instead of telling the truth, however, the defendant 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", Mueller said in the filing. Papadopoulos' sentencing is scheduled for September 7.

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After Friday's filing, Papadopoulos' wife, Simona Mangiante, told CNN she felt her husband should pull out of the plea agreement, saying he hadn't had proper representation in the negotiation with the government.

The court filing Friday states that Mueller's team is "aware that the defendant and his spouse have participated in several additional media interviews concerning his case".

Papadopoulos' lawyer Thomas Breen said Friday night that he was unable to comment at this time and would respond through the court record in their own pre-sentencing memo, which must be filed by August 31.

Van der Zwaan was sentenced in April.

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