“Newly declassified FBI memos directly conflict with court filings that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team made in asking a federal judge to send former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos to prison, further calling into question the government’s conduct in investigating the now-debunked “Russia collusion” narrative.
The memos, released under federal Freedom of Information laws, are likely to focus renewed attention on former Mueller prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, who played a key role in prosecuting Papadopoulos before working on the case of longtime GOP operative and Trump confidant Roger Stone.
(…) Zelinsky was one of three Mueller team prosecutors who signed a sentencing memo in August 2018 seeking prison time for Papadopoulos. They argued there that Papadopoulos hindered federal prosecutors’ ability to question or arrest a European professor named Joseph Mifsud in mid-February 2017 while the Maltese academic was in Washington.
According to the sentencing memo signed by Zelinsky and fellow Mueller prosecutors Jeannie Rhee and Andrew Goldstein: Papadopoulos’ “lies undermined investigators’ ability to challenge the Professor or potentially detain or arrest him while he was still in the United States. The government understands that the Professor left the United States on February 11, 2017, and he has not returned to the United States since then.”
But FBI 302 reports detailing agents’ interviews with Papadopoulos show that he had in fact supplied information that would have enabled investigators to challenge or potentially detain or arrest Mifsud while he was in the United States.
Papadopoulos, a former volunteer foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, told agents during an interview on Feb. 10, 2017 that he “inquired to Mifsud about how he knew the Russians had [Clinton’s] emails, to which Mifsud strangely chuckled and responded, ‘they told me they have them.’”
According to the Mueller Report, in an interview with the FBI on the same day, Feb. 10, Mifsud “denied that he had advance knowledge that Russia was in possession of emails damaging to candidate Clinton.”
Mifsud did not leave Washington until the next day, Feb. 11. Papadopoulos’ information should have enabled investigators to confront Mifsud with conflicting testimony on a point of critical importance to the stated purpose of the Russia collusion investigation before the professor’s departure. But this information was not mentioned in Team Mueller’s original statement of offense, or plea agreement, filed Oct. 5, 2017, nor its later sentencing recommendation. In contrast, those documents portray Papadopoulos as trying to thwart the investigation.
According to Zelinksy, Rhee, and Goldstein’s August 17, 2018 sentencing memo filed with U.S. District Judge Randolph D. Moss, “the defendant’s false statements were intended to harm the investigation, and did so.” Papadopoulos’ “lies negatively affected the FBI’s Russia investigation,” they argued, “and prevented the FBI from effectively identifying and confronting witnesses in a timely fashion.”
The FBI interview memos, however, paint a far different picture. They show, for example, that Papadopoulos expressed his willingness to participate actively in helping the bureau locate Mifsud personally even before Feb. 10, 2017.” (Read more: Lee Smith/JustTheNews, 2/24/2020) (Archive)