George Papadopoulos, a former adviser to Donald Trump’s election campaign whose contacts with Russians set off the probe into possible collusion with Moscow, has been jailed for lying to the FBI.
US District Judge Randolph Moss on Friday sentenced Papadopoulos to 14 days, noting that he “lied in an investigation that was important to national security.”
Papadopoulos, the first campaign aide sentenced in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation, had said he was “deeply embarrassed” and acknowledged that his actions could have hindered the FBI agents’ work.
“In January 2017, I made a terrible mistake for which I paid dearly, I am ashamed,” Papadopoulos had told the court in Washington. “I was young and ambitious.”
The judge said he took into consideration Papadopoulos’s “genuine remorse” in issuing the light sentence, which included a $9,500 fine, a year on parole and community service.
By lying to investigators, Papadopoulos had made “a calculated exercise of self-interest over the national interest,” said Moss.
Papadopoulos has cooperated for more than a year with Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the US presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
He has testified that senior members of the Trump campaign encouraged him during 2016 to build ties with Russia, including after he told them that Moscow possessed – and could be willing to share – dirt on Hillary Clinton, Trump’s election rival.
The former aide is said to have lied about the timing of when he received the alleged information. Papadopoulos had initially claimed this was before he joined the campaign, though he later confirmed it was once he was on staff.
Those issues are now at the heart of Mueller’s sprawling investigation, which increasingly threatens Trump’s inner circle and the president himself.
Out of the 35 people and entities so far charged, Papadopoulos is one of five who have pleaded guilty and will be the second to be sentenced.
Russia has denied US allegations that it interfered in the campaign, while Trump has regularly lashed out against the sprawling probe he dubs a “witch hunt” driven by his Democratic foes.
Papdopoulos’s lawyer Tom Breen said “the president of the United States hindered this investigation more than George Papadopoulos ever did”.