Sept. 2 (UPI) — Former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos has asked for probation on his charge of lying to the FBI in its Russia probe ahead of his sentencing next week.
Papadopoulos’ lawyers asked for probation in an overnight filing for the 2016 campaign foreign policy adviser to President Donald Trump. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in October to lying to the FBI about meetings with individuals closely associated with the Russian government during the campaign. Court documents say Papadopoulos worked to create a relationship between the campaign and the Kremlin after Trump secured the Republican nomination.
The sentencing memorandum said he was “young” and lied out of “misguided loyalty to his master.”
“His motives for lying to the FBI were wrongheaded indeed but far from the sinister spin the Government suggests,” defense lawyers Tom Breen, Todd Pugh and Robert Stanley wrote, referring to a “young George,” who was 28 at the time. “Caught off-guard by an impromptu interrogation, Mr. Papadopoulos misled investigators to save his professional aspirations and preserve a perhaps misguided loyalty to his master. … While his offense was grave, Mr. Papadopoulos did not intend to derail the federal investigation.”
Trump named Papadopoulos as one of his campaign’s foreign policy advisers on March 21, 2016, boasting to reporters: “He’s an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy,” the filing said. A few days later, Papadopoulos met in London with professor Joseph Mifsud, who introduced him to a woman named Olga, whom he believed to be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s niece, about arranging a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian government officials.
On March 31, 2016, Papadopoulos joined Trump, then-Senator Jeff Sessions and other campaign officials for a “National Security Meeting,” the filing continued. Papadopoulos announced he could help set up a foreign policy meeting with Trump and Putin, as “Trump nodded with approval,” and Sessions added that “the campaign should look into it.”
Papadopoulos has contradicted Sessions’ sworn testimony to Congress, when the Attorney General said he “pushed back” on the idea of the Putin summit, CNN reported.
Lawyers said in the filing that Papadopoulos had no experience in Russian policy, and “to say George was out of his depth would be a gross understatement.”
Later on, at an April meeting, Mifsud told Papadopoulos that people in Moscow had “dirt” on candidate Hillary Clinton from “thousands of emails,” the filing said. This contradicted Papadopoulos’ initial conversation with the FBI when he said he did not know anything about hacked emails until later in the year.
“George lied, minimized, and omitted material facts. Out of loyalty to the new president and his desire to be part of the administration, he hoisted himself upon his own petard,” Friday’s defense filing said.
Papadopoulos was the first suspect charged in Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
In another development in the probe on Friday, American lobbyist W. Samuel Patten pleaded guilty to failing to register as a foreign lobbyist and admitted he helped funnel foreign money to the president’s inaugural committee. Patten’s case was referred by the Mueller probe.
In August, Mueller said in a court filing that Papadopoulos’ “crime was serious and caused damage to the government’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election,” noting that under legal guidelines, he could face up to six months in prison.