Former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, who served time in prison for lying to the FBI, has applied for a pardon from President Donald Trump and is considering withdrawing his 2017 guilty plea, he told Reuters on Tuesday.
Papadopoulos’ plea deal says he misled the FBI in a January 2017 interview when he told them he only spoke to professor Joseph Mifsud, who purported to have ties to top Russian elites, before he joined the Trump campaign in March 2016, and not after. Papadopoulos’ wife Simona Maginante told INSIDER in August she wanted to see the plea deal scrapped. However, he elected not to withdraw and served 12 days in federal prison in November.
But in his new book “Deep State Target,” published Tuesday, Papadopoulos is claiming he “misspoke” to the FBI and the lie he pleaded guilty to was “unintentional” — the opposite of what he told a federal judge in pleading guilty, the Wall Street Journal noted. He also claims in the book that he felt “forced” into a deal to avoid facing FARA charges, The Hill reports.
Prosecutors, in an August 2018 court filing, however said that Papadopoulos’ “false statements were intended to harm the investigation, and did so.”
“Much of the information provided by the defendant came only after the government confronted him with his own emails, text messages, internet search history, and other information it had obtained via search warrants and subpoenas well after the defendant’s FBI interview as the government continued its investigation,” the document said.
In an April 2016 meeting, Mifsud told Papadopoulos that Russia had dirt on then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.”
In May of that year, Papadopoulos told Alexander Downer, Australia’s top diplomat to the UK, about Russia’s dirt on Clinton while they were drinking at an upscale bar in London.
Downer later tipped off American officials to his conversation with Papadopoulos when WikiLeaks released a trove of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee that July, leading the FBI to open an investigation into the Trump campaign.
The former campaign advisor and his attorneys feel bolstered by Attorney General William Barr’s recently released summary of Mueller’s report. Papadopoulos attorney Caroline Polisi told The Washington Post it would be “malpractice” not to ask for a pardon for her client. “We submitted it prior to the investigation coming to an end, but the results of the investigation only strengthen our arguments,” she said.
According to Barr, Mueller did not uncover substantial evidence to prove that the Trump campaign illegally conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
Article II of the constitution gives the president broad, sweeping pardon power, allowing the president to issue pardons to anyone convicted of a federal crime or to preemptively pardon people who have not been charged with federal crimes.
Some of Trump’s defenders in the conservative media world are urging him to pardon some of his former campaign aides charged in the Mueller probe, including General Michael Flynn, who also pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and cooperated with the Mueller probe for over a year.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and Trump’s lead attorney Rudy Giuliani have both said the president has no immediate plans to pardon anyone implicated in the Mueller probe, and many of Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress have also cautioned against it.
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