A federal judge on Sunday ruled that George Papadopoulos must report to prison as scheduled on Monday, rejecting a bid from the former Trump campaign adviser to delay the start of his sentence while a constitutional challenge to the special counsel investigation into Russia’s election interference remains unresolved.
Papadopoulos, who was sentenced to spend 14 days in prison, had argued it was possible that the constitutional challenge in a separate case would result in his own conviction being set aside, and that he should therefore be allowed to remain free on bail. But U.S. District Judge Randolph D. Moss noted Papadopoulos had not appealed his own conviction, having waived his right to do so when he pleaded guilty. Moss also wrote that Papadopoulos had not shown that the appeals court in the separate case would likely conclude the special counsel’s appointment was unlawful.
“The Court, accordingly, concludes that Papadopoulos has failed to carry his burden of demonstrating that the Court should continue his current bail status,” Moss wrote.
Caroline Polisi, a lawyer for Papadopoulos, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Papadopoulos retweeted a comment from Tom Fitton, president of the conservative group Judicial Watch, who called the judge’s ruling “no surprise” and added, “And no surprise much of our corrupted media and Congress ignore strong evidence that he was set up as part of illicit Obama administration effort to spy on and destroy @realDonaldTrump. Shut it down.”
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about Russia contacts during the 2016 presidential campaign. But in recent weeks, Papadopoulos has hired a new legal team and complained publicly that he was framed by intelligence agencies looking to smear Trump’s campaign.
Late last week, his new lawyers asked Moss to allow Papadopoulos to delay the start of his prison term until a constitutional challenge to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller III is resolved in Washington, D.C. Mueller is investigating whether anyone in Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia to influence the election’s outcome.
Moss resoundingly rejected what he termed the “11th hour” request, writing in a 13-page ruling that even if the challenge to Mueller’s appointment was successful – and he doubted it would be – that would unlikely give Papadopoulos cause to undo his conviction.
Mueller’s prosecutors had opposed the delay, arguing Papadopoulos had waived his right to challenge Mueller’s appointment when he agreed to plead guilty. Papadopoulos’ recent public comments, they argued, contradicted impassioned courtroom remarks that Papadopoulos offered in September, when he convinced Moss to shave time from his sentence by telling the judge that he was remorseful about his lies.
As part of his plea, Papadopoulos agreed he was dishonest with the FBI regarding key details of his interactions with a London-based professor who told him in April 2016 that the Russians had damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails.
The professor then introduced Papadopoulos to two Russian nationals and the young campaign adviser sought for months to have Trump or his staff meet with Russian counterparts.
Two federal judges at the district court level have ruled Mueller’s investigation as constitutional. A higher level three judge appeals court panel heard arguments earlier this month in another case that was brought by a former aide to Trump confidante Roger Stone, who has defied a subpoena to testify before Mueller’s grand jury. It is not clear when the panel will rule in the case, which may ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.
Papadopoulos’ wife, Simona, tweeted on Wednesday that he would serve his time in a facility in Wisconsin.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Rosalind S. Helderman, Matt Zapotosk