Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is recommending a sentence of up to six months in jail for George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign aide who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
In a court filing on Friday, prosecutors say Papadopoulos did not provide “substantial assistance” to the Russia investigation. Papadopoulos’ sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 7.
"The government does not take a position with respect to a particular sentence to be imposed, but respectfully submits that a sentence of incarceration, within the applicable Guidelines range of 0 to 6 months’ imprisonment, is appropriate and warranted,” Mueller said in the filing.
Papadopoulos never signed a formal cooperation agreement, and no promise was made to recommend a break on a sentencing. However, Mueller agreed to tell the judge about Papadopoulos’ efforts to cooperate — or lack thereof.
"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 recommended sentence of zero to six months matches what Mueller's team already agreed to suggest to the judge in this case.
When Papadopoulos' plea agreement and criminal information were released last year, prosecutors said they would use a combination of factors to ask the judge for a sentence of zero to six months instead of the statutory maximum of five years.
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Mueller said in the filing that Papadopoulos lied about his interactions with a suspected Russian agent, described in the filing as "the professor." The professor allegedly told Papadopoulos that the Russians had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails."
The government's sentencing memorandum filed by Mueller says that Papadopoulos did not immediately tell the government about a cell phone he used in London, and which had "substantial communications" between him and "the professor," who allegedly introduced Papadopoulos to a Russian woman and to a Russian national connected to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The filing says Papadopoulos didn’t notify the government about that phone until his fourth and final proffer session, but that "upon request, the defendant provided that phone to the government and consented to the search of that device."
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty Oct. 5 to one count of making false statements.
An email to the attorney listed for Papadopoulos in the case was not immediately returned Friday night. The Trump administration has sought to downplay his role in the campaign, with advisors at one point referring to him as a "coffee boy."
Mueller's filing says that Papadopoulos' "crime was serious and caused damage to the government’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election."
It also says Papadopoulos "lied in order to conceal his contacts with Russians and Russian intermediaries during the campaign and made his false statements to investigators on Jan. 27, 2017, early in the investigation, when key investigative decisions, including who to interview and when, were being made."
It says he was warned about the seriousness of the investigation and that he might have important information to provide.
"Instead of telling the truth, however, the defendant repeatedly lied throughout the interview in order to conceal 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.
"The defendant’s false statements were intended to harm the investigation, and did so," the government’s filing says.
The sentence will be up to a judge in the case. Mueller’s filing suggests that Papadopoulos could get less than six months.
It points out that Alex van der Zwaan, a London lawyer who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his phone calls and e-mails with a former Trump campaign aide, Richard Gates, was sentenced to 30 days in prison.
One of the big mysteries is who in the Trump campaign Papadopoulos may have told about the Russians allegedly possessing Clinton-related emails.
The filing suggests Papadopoulos hampered the FBI's ability to figure that out.
"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.
"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," the document says.