WASHINGTON (CN) – Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office recommended on Friday that former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos serves a sentence of 0 to 6 months.
While taking no official position on a particular sentence within that range, prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky stressed that the lies Papadopoulos told federal investigators damaged the Russia probe.
“The defendant’s crime was serious and caused damage to the government’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election,” the 10-page sentencing memo says. “The defendant lied in order to conceal his contacts with Russians and Russian intermediaries during the campaign and made his false statements to investigators on January 27, 2017, early in the investigation, when key investigative decisions, including who to interview and when, were being made.”
That meeting with investigators was voluntary and not rushed, according to the memo. After telling investigators he wanted to assist them, “he chose to travel with the agents to the FBI office in Chicago, Illinois, where he proceeded to answer questions, and to lie, for more than two hours.”
He did so after being warned that lying to federal investigators is a federal crime, and told of the seriousness of the investigation.
Among the encounters he lied about was a meeting with a professor in London who told him that the Russians had dirt in the form of thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Papadopoulos told investigators more than a dozen times that the meeting happened before he joined the Trump campaign. In reality, the meeting took place more than a month after he joined the campaign as a foreign policy adviser to the campaign.
He also lied about the timing of a meeting with a Russian national, who he believed had connections to powerful Kremlin officials and could help him plan a foreign policy trip to Russia.
And when he had a chance to correct the record in February 2017 when he met with investigators again, he refused to do so.
According to Zelinsky, Papadopoulos’ lies also hampered the investigation.
“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,” the memo says. “The government understands that the Professor left the United States on February 11, 2017 and he has not returned to the United States since then.”
According to the memo, his reasons for lying remain unclear but at the time Papadopoulos lied he was trying to get a job with the Trump administration. As a result, he “had an incentive to protect the Administration and minimize his own role as a witness.”
According to the memo, Papadopoulos “did not provide ‘substantial assistance’” in his cooperation with the special counsel.
“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 memos says.
He also declined to tell prosecutors until his fourth and final proffer session about the existence of a cell phone he used in London during the campaign that had “substantial communications” between Papadopoulos and the professor.
According to the memo, the government canceled another meeting with Papadopoulos in December 2017 after he gave an interview about the case.
Zelinsky also recommended a fine of $500 – $9,500 and noted that Papadopoulos received $10,000 from an unnamed foreign national he believed to be an intelligence officer.
“The defendant has stated that he kept that money in a safe pending his sentencing in this case and Counsel for the defendant has consented to the imposition of this fine amount,” the memo says.
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty last October to a single count of lying to federal investigators. He will be sentenced on Sept. 7.