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Counsel:Manafort Should Get Prison Time08/18 12:15

   A former Trump campaign adviser should spend at least some time in prison 
for lying to the FBI during the Russia probe, prosecutors working for special 
counsel Robert Mueller said in a court filing Friday that also revealed several 
new details about the early days of the investigation.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- A former Trump campaign adviser should spend at least 
some time in prison for lying to the FBI during the Russia probe, prosecutors 
working for special counsel Robert Mueller said in a court filing Friday that 
also revealed several new details about the early days of the investigation.

   The prosecutors disclosed that George Papadopoulos, who served as a foreign 
policy adviser to President Donald Trump's campaign during the 2016 
presidential race, caused irreparable damage to the investigation because he 
lied repeatedly during a January 2017 interview.

   Those lies, they said, resulted in the FBI missing an opportunity to 
properly question a professor Papadopoulos was in contact with during the 
campaign who told him that the Russians possessed "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in 
the form of emails.

   The filing by the special counsel's office strongly suggests the FBI had 
contact with Professor Joseph Mifsud while he was in the U.S. during the early 
part of the investigation into Russian election interference and possible 
coordination with Trump associates.

   According to prosecutors, the FBI "located" the professor in Washington 
about two weeks after Papadopoulos' interview and Papadopoulos' lies 
"substantially hindered investigators' ability to effectively question" him. 
But it doesn't specifically relate any details of an interview with the 
professor as it recounts what prosecutors say was a missed opportunity caused 
by Papadopoulos.

   "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," Mueller's team wrote, noting that the professor left the U.S. in 
February 2017 and has not returned since.

   Prosecutors note that investigators also missed an opportunity to interview 
others about the professor's comments or anyone else at that time who might 
have known about Russian efforts to obtain derogatory information on Clinton 
during the campaign.

   "Had the defendant told the FBI the truth when he was interviewed in January 
2017, the FBI could have quickly taken numerous investigative steps to help 
determine, for example, how and where the Professor obtained the information, 
why the Professor provided the information to the defendant, and what the 
defendant did with the information after receiving it," according to the court 
filing.

   Prosecutors also detail a series of difficult interviews with Papadopoulos 
after he was arrested in July 2017, saying he didn't provide "substantial 
assistance" to the investigation. Papadopoulos later pleaded guilty to lying to 
the FBI as part of a plea deal.

   The filing recommends that Papadopoulos spend at least some time 
incarcerated and pay a nearly $10,000 fine. His recommended sentence under 
federal guidelines is zero to six months, but prosecutors note another 
defendant in the case spent 30 days in jail for lying to the FBI.

   Papadopoulos has played a central role in the Russia investigation since its 
beginning as an FBI counterintelligence probe in July 2016. In fact, 
information the U.S. government received about Papadopoulos was what triggered 
the counterintelligence investigation in the first place. That probe was later 
take over by Mueller.

   Papadopoulos was also the first Trump campaign adviser to plead guilty in 
Mueller's investigation.

   Since then, Mueller has returned two sweeping indictments that detail a 
multi-faceted Russian campaign to undermine the U.S. presidential election in 
an attempt to hurt Clinton's candidacy and help Trump.

   Thirteen Russian nationals and three companies are charged with 
participating in a conspiracy to sow discord in the U.S. political system 
primarily by manipulating social media platforms.

   In addition, Mueller brought an indictment last month against 12 Russian 
intelligence operatives, accusing them of hacking into the computer systems of 
Clinton's presidential campaign and the Democratic Party and then releasing 
tens of thousands of private emails through WikiLeaks.

   According to that indictment, by April 2016, the Russian intelligence 
operatives had already stolen emails from several Democratic groups including 
the Clinton campaign and were beginning to plan how they were going to release 
the documents. That same month, according to court papers, Mifsud told 
Papadopoulos that he had met with senior Russian government officials in Moscow 
and had learned that they had "dirt" on Clinton in the form of "thousands of 
emails."


(KA)

 
 
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