- In a new court filing, the special counsel Robert Mueller used the former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos’ own tweets against him.
- Papadopoulos’ lawyers have asked the court to postpone his sentence, which is set to start on November 26, pending the outcome of a separate case challenging Mueller’s authority.
- In response, prosecutors pointed to several now-deleted tweets Papadopoulos sent that are inconsistent with his earlier statements taking responsibility for his actions.
- Mueller’s office said Papadopoulos’ tweets and other public statements show that he does not meet the federal guidelines that would allow for a defendant to have their sentence postponed.
- They also indicated that it’s unlikely the case challenging Mueller’s authority will succeed and result in a reversal of Papadopoulos’ sentence.
Lawyers representing George Papadopoulos, a former aide to President Donald Trump’s campaign who pleaded guilty in the Russia investigation, are requesting that his upcoming two-week prison sentence be postponed pending the outcome of a separate case challenging the legality of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s appointment.
In response, Mueller’s office filed a motion in which prosecutors used Papadopoulos’ own words to argue against postponing his sentence.
In the new filing, prosecutors contrasted Papadopoulos’ initial statements of remorse with subsequent public statements he made criticising Mueller and the Russia probe.
Prosecutors pointed specifically to what Papadopoulos said at his sentencing hearing in September. The former Trump aide expressed regret for his actions and said the Russia probe “has global implications and that the truth matters.” He concluded, prosecutors wrote, by telling the court he was “grateful” for the opportunity to help the investigation and had “nothing but respect for the Court and the legal process.”
But the former Trump aide soon adopted a very different tone, prosecutors said.
“Following the defendant’s sentencing, he made a variety of public statements that appear to be inconsistent with his stated acceptance of responsibility at sentencing,” they wrote.
In one instance prosecutors pointed to, Papadopoulos tweeted from his public Twitter account that the FBI’s investigation was “the biggest case of entrapment!” The next day, Papadopoulos said he was considering withdrawing his guilty plea because he believed he was framed.
Several days later, he tweeted that he had been sentenced “while having exculpatory evidence hidden from me.”
He added that if he had known that at the time, he never would have pleaded guilty. And on November 9, prosecutors wrote, Papadopoulos tweeted that his “biggest regret” was pleading guilty.
Mueller’s office indicated in subsequent footnotes that Papadopoulos has since deleted those tweets from his account.
Papadopoulos is set to begin his prison sentence on November 26. His lawyers argued in their motion that he should be allowed to stay out of prison “pending appeal,” but Mueller’s office said there is no pending appeal in his case.
Papadopoulos’ former defence lawyers stated as much earlier this month, when they filed a separate motion to withdraw from representing him.
In their motion, attorneys Thomas Breen and Robert Stanley of the law firm Breen & Pugh said they were withdrawing “because the criminal case has concluded, and the time for Mr. Papadopoulos to file an appeal has passed.”
Mueller’s office also said in its filing Wednesday that Papadopoulos’ request does not meet the guidelines that allow for a defendant to be released pending sentencing or appeal.
Federal law says a judge can postpone or overturn a defendant’s sentence only if they find that they did not file an appeal “for the purpose of delay” and if they have reason to believe the appeal may result in a mistrial, reversal, or a reduced prison term.
In Papadopoulos’ case, prosecutors wrote, his public statements following his sentencing “indicate that this motion is being made for the ‘purpose of delay.'” They pointed to Papadopoulos’ now-deleted tweet saying he should not serve “even one day in jail” to bolster their argument. Mueller’s office also said Papadopoulos has “failed to show” that the decision in a separate case challenging Mueller’s authority could result in a reversal of his own sentence.
At least two defendants have challenged Mueller’s mandate in recent months: the Russian company Concord Management and Consulting, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Judges in both cases ruled against the defendants and upheld the validity of Mueller’s appointment.