In a filing late Friday night, attorneys for Chicagoan George Papadopoulos say both then-candidate Trump and future attorney general Jeff Sessions reacted positively, when Papadopoulos suggested he could facilitate a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“While some in the room rebuffed George’s offer,” the attorneys write in a sentencing memorandum filed Friday night, “Mr. Trump nodded with approval and deferred to Mr. Sessions who appeared to like the idea and stated that the campaign should look into it.”
“Papadolous’ lawyers concede that the former Trump foreign policy advisor lied to the FBI in their investigation into Russian tampering in the 2016 election, but say his actions were driven by a desire to save his own professional aspirations and preserve a “perhaps misguided loyalty to his master.”
Papadopoulos was accused of lying to agents about his contacts with a shadowy European professor, who brought word of damaging intel on the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Attorneys Thomas Breen, Todd Pugh, and Robert Stanley write in the filing that their client’s actions were “wrongheaded indeed but far from the sinister spin the government suggests.”
The attorneys describe their client as “ashamed and remorseful.”
“While his offense was grave, Mr. Papadopoulos did not intend to derail the federal investigation.”
Indeed, they pull few punches when comparing their clients aspirations with his actual abilities.
“To say George was out of his depth would be a gross understatement,” they wrote. “Despite being a young energy policy guru, he had no experience in dealing with Russian policy or its officials.”
The memorandum describes a young, ambitious, and enthusiastic advisor, who basically panicked when he was hauled in by the FBI.
“George lied, minimized, and omitted material facts,” it states. “Out of loyalty to the new president and his desire to be part of the administration, he hoisted himself upon his own petard.”
Admitting that he was informed about potentially damaging intelligence the Russians were offering on Hillary Clinton, Papadopoulos insists he never passed that information on to the Trump campaign, and that he stated as much to the FBI.
“(They) did ask if George provided the information to the campaign and George denied ever doing so,” his attorneys wrote. “In his later proffer sessions, George reiterated that he does not recall ever passing the information along to the campaign.”
Asking for a term of probation, the attorneys write Papadopoulos never intended to compromise national security.
“When it came time to make a good decision he made a bad one.,” they wrote. “He was the first domino, and many have fallen in behind.”