George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign adviser who triggered the Russia investigation, was sentenced to 14 days in prison Friday after he told a judge he was “deeply embarrassed and ashamed” for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian intermediaries.
Papadopoulos, the first campaign aide sentenced in special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation, acknowledged that his actions hindered an investigation of national importance, a move that the judge in his case said resulted in the 31-year-old putting his own self-interest above that of his country.
“I made a dreadful mistake, but I am a good man who is eager for redemption,” Papadopoulos said.
The punishment was far less than the maximum six-month sentence sought by the government but more than the probation that Papadopoulos and his lawyers had asked for.
Papadopoulos, who served as a foreign policy adviser to President Donald Trump’s campaign, has been a central figure in the Russia investigation dating back before Mueller’s May 2017 appointment.
He was the first to plead guilty in Mueller’s probe and is now the first Trump campaign adviser to be sentenced. His case was also the first to detail a member of the Trump campaign having knowledge of Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election while it was ongoing.
U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss said Papadopoulos’ deception was “not a noble lie” and said he had lied because he wanted a job in the Trump administration and didn’t want to jeopardize that possibility by being tied to the Russia investigation.
“In some ways it constitutes a calculated exercise of self-interest over the national interest,” the judge said.
Moss noted that many similar cases resulted in probation but said he imposed a sentence of incarceration partly to send a message to the public that they can’t lie to the FBI.
The sentence drew a quick response from Trump on Twitter, as he scoffed at the two weeks of prison time by comparing it to an unverified cost figure for the Mueller probe.
“14 days for $28 MILLION — $2 MILLION a day, No Collusion. A great day for America!” the president tweeted.
Memos authored by House Republicans and Democrats, now declassified, show that information about Papadopoulos’ contacts with Russian intermediaries triggered the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation in July 2016 into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. That probe was later taken over by Mueller.