A former adviser to Donald Trump’s US presidential campaign has been sentenced to 14 days in prison.
George Papadopoulos was sentenced by a judge who said he had placed his own interests above those of the country.
Papadopoulos, the first campaign aide sentenced in special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation, said he was “deeply embarrassed and ashamed” for having lied to FBI agents during an interview last year and acknowledged that his actions could have hindered their work.
“I made a dreadful mistake, but I am a good man who is eager for redemption,” Papadopoulos said.
The punishment was far less than the maximum six-month sentence sought by the government but also more than the probation that Papadopoulos and his lawyers had asked for.
Papadopoulos, who served as a foreign policy adviser to Mr Trump’s campaign, has been a central figure in the Russia investigation dating back before Mr Mueller’s May 2017 appointment.
He was the first to plead guilty in Mr Mueller’s probe and is now the first Trump campaign adviser to be sentenced.
His case was also the first to detail a member of the Trump campaign having knowledge of Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election while it was ongoing.
US District Judge Randolph Moss said that Papadopoulos’ deception was “not a noble lie” and that he had lied because he wanted a job in the Trump administration and did not want to jeopardise that possibility by being tied to the Russia investigation.
“In some ways it constitutes a calculated exercise of self interest over the national interest,” the judge said.
Memos authored by House Republicans and Democrats, now declassified, also show that information about Papadopoulos’ contacts with Russian intermediaries triggered the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation in July 2016 into potential co-ordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. That probe was later taken over by Mr Mueller.
According to a sweeping indictment this summer, Russian intelligence had stolen emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign and other Democratic groups by April 2016, the same month Papadopoulos was told by a professor that Russian officials had told him they had “dirt” on Mrs Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails”.
Papadopoulos later used his connections with the Maltese professor, Joseph Mifsud, and other Russian nationals in an attempt to broker a meeting between then-candidate Mr Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He admitted last year to lying to the FBI about those contacts. In court papers filed ahead of the sentencing, prosecutors say those lies caused irreparable harm to the investigation during its early months.
Prosecutors wrote that those false statements, made during a January 2017 interview with federal investigators, caused the FBI to miss an opportunity to interview Mr Mifsud while he was in the United States.
“The defendant’s lies undermined investigators’ ability to challenge the Professor or potentially detain or arrest him while he was still in the United States,” they wrote, noting that Mr Mifsud left the US in February 2017 and has not returned.