George Papadopoulos, a former adviser to the Donald Trump campaign, was sentenced to 14 days in prison in district court for the District of Columbia on Friday after he pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents investigating ties between Russian operatives and the campaign.
Last October he pleaded guilty to having lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the timing of meetings with alleged go-betweens for Moscow.
Judge Randolph Moss said he took the "genuine remorse" into consideration for the sentencing. The judge said there's no evidence Papadopolous had "any desire to aid Russian Federation in any way".
Papadopoulos obtained a plea deal at the time, which was subsequently unsealed last October.
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"I made a terrible mistake, but I am a good man who is eager for redemption", Papadopoulos said. "I was not honest, and I might have hindered the investigation". Initially, she suggested that Papadopoulos could be harmful to Trump, likening him to John Dean, the White House counsel who helped bring down Richard Nixon. When hacked emails were released publicly that summer - part of an operation that intelligence officials later concluded was orchestrated by the Kremlin - the diplomat informed USA officials and a counterintelligence investigation began.
"While some in the room rebuffed George's offer, Mr Trump nodded with approval and deferred to Mr Sessions, who appeared to like the idea and stated that the campaign should look into it", Papadopoulos claimed in a pre-sentencing statement last week. Mifsud allegedly told Papadopoulos that the Kremlin had "dirt" on the Democratic Party's nominee, Hillary Clinton, in the form of "thousands" of "emails of Clinton".
It's unclear if the conversation between Mifsud and Papadopoulos was part of Moscow's larger scheme to boost Trump's candidacy.
Breen said Friday that Papadopoulos lied because he was still giddy from his rapid ascent in Trump's campaign, his hopes of securing a job in the new administration and a sense of loyalty to the president. More accurately, Papadopoulos hemmed and hawed, and finally settled on, "I might have, but I have no recollection of doing so".
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The special counsel's office prosecutors want a more substantial sentence and have asked the judge for up to six months of prison time, which would fall within the court's guidelines for his crime.
Attorneys for Papadopoulos had sought to avoid prison, instead requesting probation.
At one point, Thomas Breen, Papadopoulos' lawyer, presented a curious line of argument for leniency during the sentencing.
"The president of the United States, the commander in Chief, told the world that this was fake news", he added, and complimented Mueller's team for being "professional", while referring his own client as "naive" and a "fool".
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Trump named Papadopoulos as one of his campaign's foreign policy advisers on March 21, 2016, boasting to reporters: "He's an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy", a filing said. "All I can say about this question - because I've been asked a million times - is if I told anyone it would have been discovered by now", he told CNN.