Mueller: Papadopoulos could face brief prison time

Lies from Papadopoulos harmed Russia investigation special counsel says

Special counsel Robert Mueller's team has recommended a prison sentence of up to six months for former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, arguing in a court filing on Friday that he successfully sought to harm the Russian Federation investigation in its critical early stages.

In a court filing on Friday, prosecutors say Papadopoulos did not provide "substantial assistance" to the Russian Federation investigation.

Papadopoulos' fate will be known soon, as Mueller asked U.S. District Court Judge Randy Moss to set Papadopoulos' sentencing for September 7.

Mueller said the government believed a sentence of up to six months in prison was "appropriate and warranted" along with a fine of $9,500.

Muller also told the judge that Papadopoulos had not fully cooperated with prosecutors.

"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 memorandum says.

The memorandum adds that Mr Papadopoulos lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his contacts with alleged Russian go-betweens. Mifsud had told Papadopoulos the Russians had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.

Mueller wrote in the filing that Papadopoulos chose to lie to federal investigators during a voluntary interview and that he "was expressly warned that it is a crime to lie to federal investigators".

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". The only defendant to be sentenced is lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, who pleaded guilty to making false statements about his conversations with a former Trump campaign official.

Papadopoulos' lawyer Thomas Breen said Friday night that he was unable to comment at this time and would respond through the court record in their own pre-sentencing memo, which must be filed by August 31. The Trump administration has sought to downplay his role in the campaign, with advisors at one point referring to him as a "coffee boy".

The Mueller court documents said Mr Papadopoulos caused irreparable damage to the Russian Federation investigation because he lied repeatedly to agents during a January 2017 interview. The campaign aide, who the Trump team has tried to characterize as nothing more than a "coffee boy", had "lied in order to hide 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".

It says he was warned about the seriousness of the investigation and that he might have important information to provide. "The defendant's false statements were meant to harm the investigation, and did so".

The sentence will be up to a judge in the case.

Papadopoulos's legal team will file their own sentencing assessment to the court in two weeks, and is expected to ask for probation.

In October, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to Mueller and his team - which, according to Politico, made him the first to plead guilty in the Mueller investigation.

Van der Zwaan was sentenced in April. They reminded Papadopoulos several times in that interview that he should not lie and could be prosecuted if he did, the filing said.

The government alleges Papadopoulos' duplicity hindered investigators' ability to interview key players, including a professor who may have been an intermediary for the Russian government.

Thirty-two people have been charged by Mueller's office since it took over the investigation in May 2017.

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