Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team is seeking a prison term of up to six months for George Papadopoulos, the Chicagoan and ex-Trump campaign aide who was among the first charged in the investigation into Russian election meddling.
Mueller did “not take a position with respect to a particular sentence” for Papadopoulos but recommended incarceration within the zero-to-six-month guidelines, according to a sentencing memo filed Friday.
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty last October to one count of making false statements, admitting in court papers that he lied about the nature of his interactions with “foreign nationals” he thought had close connections to senior Russian government officials.
Papadopoulos, who turns 31 sometime in August, grew up in Lincolnwood, went to Niles West High School, graduated from DePaul University and lives with his wife in Chicago.
“The defendant’s crime was serious and caused damage to the government’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election,” according to the memo signed by Mueller.
Papadopoulos lied to FBI agents who questioned him about his connections to an unnamed professor and Russian nationals who claimed to have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, the memo says. He tried “to minimize the extent and importance of his communications” and lied about when they started — after he joined the Trump campaign as a foreign policy adviser.
He told investigators he had “no” relationship with one female Russian national, though really “he believed that she had connections to high-level Russian government officials and could help him arrange a potential foreign policy trip to Russia; he informed the campaign of his beliefs regarding her connections; and during the campaign he emailed and spoke over Skype on numerous occasions with her about the potential trip to Russia,” the memo says.
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.
“But the record shows that at the time of the interview, the defendant was attempting to secure a job with the Trump Administration and had an incentive to protect the Administration and minimize his own role as a witness,” the memo says.
In addition to the jail term, prosecutor asked Judge Randy Moss to impose a $9,500 fine because Papadopoulos said he was paid about $10,000 “from a foreign national whom he believed was likely an intelligence officer of a foreign country (other than Russia).” He kept the money “in a safe pending his sentencing.”
Papadopoulos’ case represents “the first criminal conviction arising from the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election,” Mueller’s team previously said.
He unwittingly triggered Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling when he told Australia’s top diplomat in Britain during a meeting in London in May 2016 that Russia had thousands of emails that would embarrass Clinton.