Former Trump aide George Papadopoulos, whose remarks in a London pub sparked the inquiry into possible collusion with Russia, has been sentenced to 14 days in jail.
The 31-year-old told the court in Washington DC he was a “patriotic American” who made a mistake by lying.
Last year, George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the timing of meetings with alleged go-betweens for Moscow.
He was the first former Trump aide arrested in the probe into an alleged Russia plot to sway the 2016 US vote.
President Donald Trump reacted by taking an apparent swipe at the cost of the investigation into George Papadopoulos.
In September 7 sentencing, George Papadopoulos was also handed 12 months of supervised release, 200 hours of community service, and a fine of $9,500.
Donald Trump’s former aide said in court that his “entire life has been turned upside down” and he hoped “for a second chance to redeem myself”.
George Papadopoulos concluded by saying “this investigation has global implications, and the truth matters”.
He was a London-based petroleum analyst before he joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 as a volunteer foreign policy adviser.
George Papadopoulos soon made contact with a mysterious Maltese academic, Joseph Mifsud.
Professor Mifsud told George Papadopoulos the Russians had “dirt” on Donald Trump’s Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails”.
In the following months, thousands of emails linked to the Clinton campaign were published by WikiLeaks.
Robert Mueller Investigation: Donald Trump’s Campaign Adviser George Papadopoulos Lied About Russia Links
George Papadopoulos told Donald Trump, then a Republican presidential candidate, and other members of the campaign’s national security team that he could set up a meeting with President Vladimir Putin ahead of the 2016 election.
A pre-sentencing statement last week read: “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.”
George Papadopoulos told CNN in an interview aired on September 7 that Donald Trump “gave me a sort of a nod” and “wasn’t committed either way” about the idea of a meeting with the Russian leader.
However, he said then-senator and now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions “was actually enthusiastic”. Last November, Jeff Sessions testified to Congress that he had “pushed back” against George Papadopoulos’ offer.
American authorities were alerted in mid-2016 after George Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat during a drinking session in a London pub about his meetings with Professor Mifsud.
The envoy told US investigators, shortly after the emails hacked from the Democratic Party were leaked.
When the FBI interviewed George Papadopoulos in January 2017, he falsely claimed he had met two individuals with Russian ties before he joined the president’s team in March 2016.
He had actually met them after joining Donald Trump’s campaign.
One individual was a Russian woman who George Papadopoulos believed had connections to the Russian government.
In July 2018, the DoJ charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking Democratic officials.
Prosecutors said George Papadopoulos’s lack of cooperation with investigators meant they were unable to effectively question or detain Joseph Mifsud. The professor has since left the United States.
No connection between Joseph Misfud and the hacked emails has been proven.
The DNC, which is suing Russia, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks over the alleged election interference in the 2016, filed a court document on September 7, saying Joseph Mifsud “was missing and may be deceased”, without any further explanation, according to Bloomberg News.
It referred to him as a key figure to have evaded the Mueller inquiry.
George Papadopoulos said: “I made a dreadful mistake, but I am a good man who is eager for redemption.”
He said he lied not to impede investigation but “to preserve a perhaps misguided loyalty to his master”.
Judge Randolph Moss said he took the “genuine remorse” into consideration for the sentencing.
The only other person to be sentenced in the investigation – lawyer Alex Van Der Zwaan – received 30 days in prison. His judge referred to his regret as “muted”.
Outside court on September, George Papadopoulos’ lawyer, Thomas Breen, said his client was a “fool” and had acted “stupidly” in lying to the FBI.
However, the attorney said “the president of the United States hindered this investigation more than Papadopoulos ever could”.
The lawyer said President Trump had hampered the inquiry by calling it a “witch hunt” and “fake news”.