Counsel:Manafort Should Get Prison Time08/18 12:15
A former Trump campaign adviser should spend at least some time in prison
for lying to the FBI during the Russia probe, prosecutors working for special
counsel Robert Mueller said in a court filing Friday that also revealed several
new details about the early days of the investigation.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A former Trump campaign adviser should spend at least
some time in prison for lying to the FBI during the Russia probe, prosecutors
working for special counsel Robert Mueller said in a court filing Friday that
also revealed several new details about the early days of the investigation.
The prosecutors disclosed that George Papadopoulos, who served as a foreign
policy adviser to President Donald Trump's campaign during the 2016
presidential race, caused irreparable damage to the investigation because he
lied repeatedly during a January 2017 interview.
Those lies, they said, resulted in the FBI missing an opportunity to
properly question a professor Papadopoulos was in contact with during the
campaign who told him that the Russians possessed "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in
the form of emails.
The filing by the special counsel's office strongly suggests the FBI had
contact with Professor Joseph Mifsud while he was in the U.S. during the early
part of the investigation into Russian election interference and possible
coordination with Trump associates.
According to prosecutors, the FBI "located" the professor in Washington
about two weeks after Papadopoulos' interview and Papadopoulos' lies
"substantially hindered investigators' ability to effectively question" him.
But it doesn't specifically relate any details of an interview with the
professor as it recounts what prosecutors say was a missed opportunity caused
"The defendant's lies undermined investigators' ability to challenge the
Professor or potentially detain or arrest him while he was still in the United
States," Mueller's team wrote, noting that the professor left the U.S. in
February 2017 and has not returned since.
Prosecutors note that investigators also missed an opportunity to interview
others about the professor's comments or anyone else at that time who might
have known about Russian efforts to obtain derogatory information on Clinton
during the campaign.
"Had the defendant told the FBI the truth when he was interviewed in January
2017, the FBI could have quickly taken numerous investigative steps to help
determine, for example, how and where the Professor obtained the information,
why the Professor provided the information to the defendant, and what the
defendant did with the information after receiving it," according to the court
Prosecutors also detail a series of difficult interviews with Papadopoulos
after he was arrested in July 2017, saying he didn't provide "substantial
assistance" to the investigation. Papadopoulos later pleaded guilty to lying to
the FBI as part of a plea deal.
The filing recommends that Papadopoulos spend at least some time
incarcerated and pay a nearly $10,000 fine. His recommended sentence under
federal guidelines is zero to six months, but prosecutors note another
defendant in the case spent 30 days in jail for lying to the FBI.
Papadopoulos has played a central role in the Russia investigation since its
beginning as an FBI counterintelligence probe in July 2016. In fact,
information the U.S. government received about Papadopoulos was what triggered
the counterintelligence investigation in the first place. That probe was later
take over by Mueller.
Papadopoulos was also the first Trump campaign adviser to plead guilty in
Since then, Mueller has returned two sweeping indictments that detail a
multi-faceted Russian campaign to undermine the U.S. presidential election in
an attempt to hurt Clinton's candidacy and help Trump.
Thirteen Russian nationals and three companies are charged with
participating in a conspiracy to sow discord in the U.S. political system
primarily by manipulating social media platforms.
In addition, Mueller brought an indictment last month against 12 Russian
intelligence operatives, accusing them of hacking into the computer systems of
Clinton's presidential campaign and the Democratic Party and then releasing
tens of thousands of private emails through WikiLeaks.
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. That same month, according to court papers, Mifsud told
Papadopoulos that he had met with senior Russian government officials in Moscow
and had learned that they had "dirt" on Clinton in the form of "thousands of