George Papadopoulos, a former member of the foreign policy panel to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, poses for a photo before a TV interview in New York, New York, U.S., March 26, 2019.
(photo credit: REUTERS/CARLO ALLEGRI)
George Papadopoulos, formerly an aide to US President Donald Trump's campaign for president, said he was never questioned by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team with regard to Russia, only work related to Israel, calling it the "key" to his case.
"What I was really targeted for by the Mueller team and these individuals has nothing to with Russia, it has to do with my work in Israel and my work, actually, as an energy lobbyist," he told Army Radio in an interview broadcast on Sunday.
"I never met a single Russian official in my entire life, even on the Trump campaign. All these characters in my story that were described falesly by the FBI and Bob Mueller to be Russians were, in fact, Western intelligence operatives that were sent to try and sabotage the Trump campaign."
Papadopoulos, who was plucked out of obscurity to work as a foreign policy adviser for Donald Trump's presidential run, pleaded guilty in October 2017 to lying to the FBI about his communications with two Russian nationals and a Maltese professor with Russian ties while working on the campaign.
In his book, "Deep State Target: How I Got Caught in the Crosshairs of the Plot to Bring Down President Trump
," Papadopoulos claims he was duped into pleading guilty and says his admitted lies were memory lapses and unintentional.
"I believe it's a total vindication for both the campaign, the transition team and the current administration," he told Army Radio of US Attorney General William Barr's report on the Mueller report. "And what I do believe is going to happen now is I think this vindication is going to result in new investigation into those who committed this unlawful, unjustful witch hunt, as the president calls it."
Under his plea deal, Papadopoulos acknowledged that Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese academic, told him in April 2016 that Russia had "dirt" on then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, three months before hacked emails started appearing online and doing damage to the Clinton campaign.
Papadopoulos told Australian diplomat Alexander Downer over drinks in May 2016 that Russia had political dirt on Clinton. Australian officials passed that information to their US counterparts two months later, helping trigger the FBI's probe into Russian attempts to influence the Trump campaign.
The ex-campaign strategist was sentenced to 14 days in federal prison
for lying to the FBI and told Army Radio he has "no expectations" for a presidential pardon.
"My lawyers think he might issue [a pardon]; I don't have any expectation though," he said. "I believe the foundation of my case was corrupted as President Trump will see the entire Mueller investigation surrounding me was my work with Israel and not with Russia."
Despite his legal troubles, Papadopoulos said he remains a Trump supporter.
"I am a very big supporter of President Trump, I think his decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem
and acknowledge Israel's right to the Golan Heights
are incredibly important, both from a strategic point of view, but also from a moral standpoint. So of course I'm very pleased with him and I support him and I expect him to be reelected in 2020.Reuters contributed to this report.
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