WASHINGTON – Unless a long shot bid to avoid prison comes over the weekend, Chicagoan George Papadopoulos, a former Trump foreign policy campaign advisor, is supposed to surrender Monday to start his 14-day sentence for lying to FBI agents working on Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
Papadopoulos, one of the first to be charged by Mueller, pleaded guilty and told U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss at his Sept. 24 sentencing he was remorseful and “made a terrible mistake.”
Turns out, that’s not the end of the story.
In recent weeks, Papadopoulos has said on Twitter he regretted his plea. He is represented by a new team of lawyers who replaced his Chicago-based attorneys.
Papadopoulos is pushing a conspiracy theory about the Australian diplomat whose tip about Papadopoulos discussing “dirt” the Russians had on Hillary Clinton helped launch the Mueller investigation.
Meanwhile, his wife, Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos, has been pressing President Donald Trump on Twitter for a pardon for her husband and trying to raise money on a GoFundMe account.
As of Friday the account had $15,938 towards the $250,000 goal, raised in the last five months from 356 people.
She said in a Friday Tweet: “George worked for your success, for your country, he was building a brilliant career when he became the mean to a target, all his efforts vanished, his career interrupted ! @FLOTUS @realDonaldTrump this is totally unfair, you only can help! Pardon @GeorgePapa19 #fairness #justice”
The motion to delay Papadopoulos’ 14-day sentence has thrust George and Simona Papadopoulos once again in the news, which may benefit their drive for a presidential pardon.
On Nov. 13, the Papadopoulos Chicago lawyers, Thomas Breen and Robert Stanley asked Moss for permission to withdraw from the case, which was granted.
Friday, I asked Breen why he withdrew.
“We felt it best to withdraw from the case based on George’s public statements that he gave contrary to the facts in the case. We know that George and his wife are interested in a pardon but we could not in good conscience support their method of attempting to get a pardon,” Breen told me.
He added, “George was not communicating with us so we were unable to advise him properly.”
And what would that advice have been, I asked.
“We felt that he should stop making public statements, even though it is his right to do so.”
Papadopoulos lawyers argue that Papadopoulos should be granted a “modest stay” until an appellate court rules in a separate case challenging the legality of Mueller’s appointment.
“…If the appeal is successful, then the Special Counsel lacked constitutional authority to prosecute Mr. Papadopoulos in the first instance.”
They also argue that Papadopoulos will endure “hardship” if he can’t remain out of prison on bail.
Papadopoulos will serve his 14 days at a federal facility in Oxford, Wisc., a medium-security prison which includes a minimum-security camp where he will likely land.
Government lawyers, in their response, noted that Papadopoulos, after sentencing, “made a variety of public statements that appear to be inconsistent with his stated acceptance of responsibility.”
They cited, among other statements, his Nov. 9 Tweet, “Biggest regret? Pleading guilty.”
Concluded the government: Papadopolous “received what he bargained for, and holding him to it is not a hardship.”