Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopolous appeared before a federal judge to be sentenced for lying to the FBI on Friday. Ahead of the hearing, a sentencing memorandum gave us some new information, including that President Trump personally signed off on Papadopoulos’ offer to set up a meeting with Vladimir Putin during the campaign. Papadopolous’ attorney argued in court Friday that Trump “hindered that investigation more” than Papadopoulos did. Papadopolous was ultimately sentenced to 14 days in prison and a year of supervised release, fined $9,500 and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service. The judge had planned a harsher sentence but said he was moved by Papadopolous’ words of contrition.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team informed the President that it would allow him to submit written answers to questions; Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani replied that questions about obstruction of justice were a “no-go,” in person or in writing. According to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward’s new book “Fear,” Trump has waffled on whether to testify as part of the Mueller probe. His lawyers have cautioned against it: A mock interview set up by his legal team ended with Trump exploding in anger. Former personal attorney John Dowd reportedly told the President “you are not a good witness” and resigned the following day.
Guliani also reportedly claimed that the President may use executive privilege to block Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein from releasing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report when the investigation is finished.
Mueller continues to home in on former Trump adviser Roger Stone. On Wednesday, he subpoenaed Stone ally and noted conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, who during the Obama years joined Trump in promoting the birther lie. And on Friday, radio host Randy Credico — a friend of Stone’s who Stone claimed was his intermediary with Julian Assange — appeared with his dog Bianca before Mueller’s grand jury.
Questions about Mueller’s probe played a prominent role in Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings this week. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) asked Kavanaugh multiple times about any discussions regarding the Russia probe he might have had with employees at Kasowitz, Benson & Torres, the firm of Trump’s personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz. On a second round of questioning, Harris said that she had “reliable” information that such a conversation had occurred. Asked again whether it did, Kavanaugh replied “the answer is no.”
Former Manafort associate Sam Patten spent the weekend after his guilty plea feuding on Facebook with Georgian officials connected with the country’s former president.
Paul Manafort’s Washington, D.C. trial on charges of money laundering, witness tampering and failure to disclose foreign lobbying looms later this month. In a pretrial hearing this week, the judge set ground rules informed by Manafort’s Virginia trial, including barring talk of Manafort associate Rick Gates’ affairs and allowing the use of the word “oligarch.” Manafort is reportedly in conversations with Mueller’s team to plead guilty to some charges, part of a deal that would avert the trial. Similar negotiations fell through last month.