WASHINGTON — The special counsel’s office opposed a motion today by former Trump campaign foreign policy aide George Papadopoulos to delay his prison sentence, noting that his tweets and other recent statements about the case have been inconsistent with his guilty plea.
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty last year to lying to federal agents about the nature and timing of his contacts in trying to set up a meeting between the presidential candidate and the Russian government.
The guilty plea was unsealed in October 2017, the same day as indictments against former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his aide Rick Gates were unsealed and the pair surrendered to the FBI. Manafort was convicted on eight counts in the Eastern District of Virginia in August, and is scheduled to be sentenced in February; prosecutors may re-try him on 10 charges if he’s determined to not be sufficiently cooperative with Robert Mueller’s team. Gates struck a plea deal with Mueller this past February.
In August, Mueller’s team argued for prison time and indicated Papadopoulos was not being cooperative, saying he should be held accountable for having repeatedly misled them “about critical facts, in an investigation of national importance, after having been explicitly warned that lying to the FBI was a federal offense.” In September, Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in prison, 12 months of supervised release, a $9,500 fine and 200 hours of community service.
Papadopoulos is supposed to report to prison Monday.
Last week, Papadopoulos’ attorneys argued that a legal challenge to Mueller’s authority brought by Roger Stone associate Andrew Miller could “directly impact the validity of Mr. Papadopoulos’ prosecution and conviction.” But Mueller’s team said in a filing today that Papadopoulos’ delay request is without basis as he “has no pending appeal, his motion is made for purposes of delay, and he has not presented a substantial legal question that is likely to result in reversal.”
Furthermore, Papadopoulos’ statements nowadays “appear to be inconsistent with his stated acceptance of responsibility at sentencing” and “indicate that this motion is being made for the ‘purpose of delay.'”
The Mueller court filing noted how Papadopoulos tweeted Oct. 25 that he was victim of “the biggest case of entrapment!” and said on TV the next day that he was “considering withdrawing” his plea agreement because he should not “have to serve even one day in jail for something that now it seems was completely orchestrated and I was framed.”
“Several days later, the defendant publicly tweeted: ‘I have been sentenced to prison in our country while having exculpatory evidence hidden from me. If I knew what I knew today, I would have never plead guilty,’ On November 9, 2018, the defendant tweeted, ‘Biggest regret? Pleading guilty,'” the Mueller filing added, concluding that Papadopoulos’ motion to continue his bail should be denied.