George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser who last year pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about his contacts with Russian intermediaries before the 2016 election, was sentenced on Friday to 14 days in jail.
He is the first Trump campaign adviser to be sentenced as part of the continuing investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Three others pleaded guilty or were convicted of felonies and await sentencing.
Mr. Papadopoulos was also fined $9,500 and ordered to complete 200 hours of community service and one year of probation after he serves his sentence. Federal District Judge Randolph D. Moss cited “the gravity of the investigation” and the need to send a message to the public as the reason for the imprisonment.
Prosecutors argued that Mr. Papadopoulos’s repeated lies during a January 2017 interview with federal investigators impeded the inquiry at a critical moment. In part because Mr. Papadopoulos misled authorities, they said in court papers, they failed to arrest a London-based professor — suspected of being a Russian operative — before he left the United States in February 2017, never to return.
During an interview with The New York Times this week, Mr. Papadopoulos, 31, for the first time gave his own account of why he deceived F.B.I. agents after they arrived at his house in Chicago in January 2017 asking about any connections between the Trump campaign and Russian intermediaries.
“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.
“You know,” he added, “I never felt that I did anything against my country’s interests.”
SOURCE: Mark Mazzetti and Sharon LaFraniere
The New York Times