Ex-Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos was sentenced Friday to 14 days in prison for lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his contacts with a Russian intermediary, giving Special Counsel Robert Mueller a second prison term from his 15-month inquiry.
Friday was his first public court appearance since he pleaded guilty in October, 2017, to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation while the case was still sealed. Papadopoulos says he had nothing to do with the leak.
"People point and snicker and I am terribly depressed", he said. "I was not honest, and I might have hindered the investigation".
Asked if Papadopoulos still remained loyal to Trump, Breen smiled wryly and paused for a beat.
Papadopoulos, who served as a foreign policy adviser to President Donald Trump's campaign, has been a central figure in the Russian Federation investigation dating back before Mueller's May 2017 appointment. The envoy alerted United States investigators.
They allege Papadopoulos thwarted an ongoing national security investigation and contributed to them losing track of Joseph Mifsud, the professor who knew about the "dirt" on Hillary Clinton, before they could effectively question him.
It's unclear if the conversation between Mifsud and Papadopoulos was part of Moscow's larger scheme to boost Trump's candidacy. In a court filing August 31, Papadopoulos's lawyers painted him as a political newcomer "eager to show his value to the campaign", and quickly got in over his head. "I saw him sitting in one picture at a table with me".
Papadopoulos has cooperated for more than a year with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the USA presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
As noted by USA Today, authorities thought that Papadopoulos could serve as a key informant, but it quickly became clear that was not the case.
Prosecutors working for special counsel Robert S Mueller III had asked the judge to sentence Papadopoulos to six months in prison, saying his false statements "were meant to harm the investigation, and did so".
Even after his arrest and plea agreement previous year, prosecutors say Papadopoulos continued to be hard with investigators, only providing information after being confronted with documents such as emails and text messages.
The lawyers argued Papadopoulos lied as he was influenced by the President's aggressive sentiments on the probe. His sentencing Friday made clear he had barely been a cooperator in the investigation, yet had serious contact with Russia's affiliates in Europe as they tried to lure the Trump campaign.
"The problem I have with the fake news Twitters that go out - or the tweets that go out - is that he was tweeting seven days before George was interviewed that - and he's the president of the United States - that based on all of his information, I would assume and the information he had - that this was a witch hunt". Because of his loyalty to Trump, "that's the mind set going in there".
Lawyers for Papadopoulos contradicted that assertion. 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.
Papadopoulos apparently raised the possibility of setting up a meeting between Trump and Putin during a national security meeting in March 2016.
He did not elaborate on the $28 million price tag he cited, though it appeared to be about the cost of Mueller's investigation.