Mueller recommends prison sentence for ex-Trump aide

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Washington : Special Counsel Robert Mueller recommended that a federal judge to sentence George Papadopoulos, a former campaign aide of US President Donald Trump, to up to six months in prison for lying to investigators in relation to the ongoing Russia meddling probe.

"The government does not take a position with respect to a particular sentence to be imposed, but respectfully submits that a sentence of incarceration, within the applicable guidelines range of 0 to 6 months' imprisonment, is appropriate and warranted," Mueller wrote on Friday in a government sentencing memorandum to the US District Court for the District of Columbia.

"The defendant's crime was serious and caused damage to the government's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election," Mueller added.

"The defendant lied in order to conceal his contacts with Russians and Russian intermediaries during the campaign and made his false statements to investigators on January 27, 2017, early in the investigation, when key investigative decisions, including who to interview and when, were being made."

Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser in Trump's 2016 campaign, pleaded guilty in October to making false statements to the special counsel's team, becoming the first person to admit guilty to Mueller's federal prosecutors, reports Politico news.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) accused him of lying to investigators when it asked him about whether he had advance knowledge that Russians had obtained emails connected to Hillary Clinton's campaign and whether they intended to distribute them.

According to his plea agreement, Papadopoulos admitted to lying about the timing of his contacts with a professor, Joseph Mifsud, in London.

Mifsud, according to prosecutors, told Papdopoulos after he had joined the Trump campaign in spring 2016 that Russians had obtained "dirt" on Clinton.

But Papadopoulos, according to Mueller, repeatedly denied that he interacted with the professor before to joining the campaign team.

Mueller wrote in Friday's filing that Papadopoulos "was explicitly notified of the seriousness of the ongoing investigation", and warned by the special counsel's prosecutors "that lying to investigators was a ‘federal offense' that could get him ‘in trouble'", Politico reported.

Mueller also maintained that Papadopoulos' false statements "were intended to harm the investigation, and did so."

"His lies negatively affected the FBI's Russia investigation, and prevented the FBI from effectively identifying and confronting witnesses in a timely fashion... His lies were not momentary lapses. He lied repeatedly... and his lies were designed to conceal facts he knew were critical."