Mueller Urges Court to Jail Onetime Trump Aide as Scheduled

(Bloomberg) -- Special Counsel Robert Mueller urged a Washington federal judge to reject onetime Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos’s request to delay his two-week jail sentence until a U.S. appeals court rules on someone else’s challenge to Mueller’s appointment.

Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to a single count of lying to federal agents, is due to report to prison on Nov. 26. He asked U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss for a postponement because of an appeals court fight initiated by would-be Mueller grand jury witness Andrew Miller, who is challenging the basis for the special counsel’s appointment.

Citing arguments made in Miller’s case, Papadopoulos’s lawyers asked for the delay last week. Attorneys for Mueller on Wednesday opposed that request, arguing the ex-Trump aide has offered no valid legal basis for it. The special counsel also criticized Papadopoulos for acknowledging his guilt and accepting responsibility in court -- factors Moss considered when he imposed the brief punishment -- and then taking to TV and social media to repudiate his statements.

Those actions “appear to be inconsistent with his stated acceptance of responsibility at sentencing,” Mueller’s lawyers said in their court filing.

“I made a dreadful mistake, but I am a good man,” Papadopoulos said at his sentencing hearing.

Since then, Papadopoulos changed his tune, writing on Twitter Oct. 25 that his prosecution constituted “the biggest case of entrapment.” He followed that up with interviews on television, complaining about his prosecution.

Papadopoulos played a key role in sparking the FBI’s probe of Trump campaign contacts with Russia when, during a night of heavy drinking in a London bar in May 2016, he told an Australian diplomat that Russia had dirt on Clinton. The FBI, tipped off by the Australians, began looking into the matter.

Prosecutors said Papadopoulos used his contacts with a professor, identified in court papers as Joseph Mifsud, to elevate his status within Trump’s campaign and lobby for a meeting between Trump and Russian officials, including president Vladimir Putin.

His lies about the timing of his encounter with the professor, including falsely claiming that it occurred before he joined the campaign, prevented investigators from effectively questioning Mifsud when he was in Washington in February 2017, prosecutors said in a court filing.

Moss acknowledged that argument at the Sept. 7 sentencing hearing, but also said he was moved by what appeared to be Papadopoulos’s "genuine remorse." The judge imposed a two-week jail term, plus 12 months of supervised release and a $9,500 fine. As part of his plea deal, the ex-aide surrendered his right to any appeal.

"The defendant received what he bargained for, and holding him to it is not a hardship," prosecutors said in the Wednesday filing.

The case is U.S. v. Papadopoulos, 17-cr-182, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

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