World

Aide George Papadopoulos sentenced to jail time in Mueller probe

Aide George Papadopoulos sentenced to jail time in Mueller probe

The former aide was the first person to be arrested as part of the special counsel's investigation.

Appearing in federal court, the former businessman was sentenced to 14 days in prison for lying to federal investigators employed by special counsel Robert Mueller.

They allege Papadopoulos thwarted an ongoing national security investigation and contributed to them losing track of Joseph Mifsud, the professor who knew about the "dirt" on Hillary Clinton, before they could effectively question him.

In court Friday, prosecutor Andrew Goldstein said Papadopoulos' cooperation "didn't come close to the standard of substantial assistance".

He is the first former campaign aide to be sentenced in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.

The judge also issued a $9,500 fine and community service.

Prosecutors said the lies Papadopoulos told slowed the investigation and prevented the FBI from arresting Mifsud before he could leave the United States.

Papadopoulos lied to investigators because he was "caught off-guard by an impromptu investigation" and wanted to "save his professional aspirations", his lawyers said.

"We are very satisfied with the sentence", Papadopoulos's lawyer, Thomas Breen, told reporters after the hearing.

Mueller told Trump's attorneys in March he was continuing to investigate the Republican president but did not consider him a criminal target "at this point", the Washington Post reported in early April.

"The president of the United States hindered this investigation more than George Papadopoulos ever could", Breen said.

Prosecutors sought a sentence of up to six months, while defence lawyers asked for probation.

"My recollection was that the senator [Jeff Sessions] was actually enthusiastic about a meeting between the candidate and President Putin".

"I saw him sitting in one picture at a table with me, that's the only thing I know about him", Trump said, referring to a widely circulated photo of Papadopoulos in a meeting with Trump and several other advisers.

Former Donald Trump presidential campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos could have been given a bigger sentence. That probe was later taken over by Mueller. "I made a awful mistake", he remarked.

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents about the timing and significance of his contacts with the Russians.

That clashes with what Sessions, a key campaign aide and now Trump's attorney general, told the House Judiciary Committee last November. Sessions has said the opposite while testifying under oath.

President Donald Trump and his allies have repeatedly downplayed Papadopoulos' role on the campaign.

"We were hoping for no jail time but two weeks is OK", Maria Stamatopoulos said. Papadopoulos says he had nothing to do with the leak.

Van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer who worked with Manafort and Gates, was also convicted of lying to prosecutors.