George Papadopoulos, the former campaign adviser to President Donald Trump, was sentenced this afternoon for 14 days in jail for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian interests during the campaign.
Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty to the crime last October. Papdopoulos had allegedly been communicating with a professor and with ties to the Russian government who told him that Russia had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton, including those stolen emails. He gave false statements about his contacts to the FBI, which the FBI said impeded their investigation into the extent that Russian meddling may have worked its way into the campaign.
Papadopoulos is now opening up to the press and in an interview with The New York Times he explains:
"I wanted to distance myself as much as possible — and Trump himself and the campaign — from what was probably an illegal action or dangerous information," he said. At the time of the F.B.I. interview, he said, he was being considered for a job in the Trump administration and was concerned about where the escalating investigation might lead. He made no suggestion that anyone else on the Trump campaign or in the administration had directed him to lie.
Prosecutors had asked for six months. Papadopoulos' attorney asked for probation. In addition to the 14-day sentence, he's been fined $9,500, and ordered to complete 200 hours of community service and one year of probation.
Ken "Popehat" White, himself a former federal prosecutor (and occasional Reason contributor), doesn't see anything particularly special about the sentence:
14 days is an unremarkable sentence for a no-loss lying-to-the-FBI guilty plea like this. Be skeptical of people telling you either OMG SO LENIENT or OMG SO HARSH.— TreasonHat (@Popehat) September 7, 2018
Yeah, good luck with that. Here's Trump's response (presumably about the cost of the investigation thus far):
14 days for $28 MILLION - $2 MILLION a day, No Collusion. A great day for America!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2018
Probably the lesson to be learned here comes not from Trump or anybody at the FBI but from Papadopoulos' own mother, courtesy of Washington Post reporter Rosalind Helderman:
Kiki Papadopoulos, George's mother, says she was there when FBI agents showed up and requested interview and advised her son to decline and get a lawyer. The lesson, she said: "if you only listened to your mother none of this would have happened."— Rosalind Helderman (@PostRoz) September 7, 2018
Mother knows best.
Photo Credit: KEN CEDENO/UPI/Newscom