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Papadopoulos ask Comey to testify publicly in exchange for immunity

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George Papadopoulos
Former Trump campaign aide
George Papadopoulos.

Yuri
Gripas/Reuters


  • George Papadopoulos, a former adviser to President Donald
    Trump’s campaign, called for former FBI director James Comey to
    publicly testify about the FBI’s purported mishandling of the
    Russia investigation.
  • Papadopoulos’ tweets came after House Republicans subpoenaed
    Comey and former attorney general Loretta Lynch to appear before
    lawmakers in a closed-door session.
  • But Comey has already been pushing for an open hearing.
  • Papadopoulos earlier wanted immunity to testify before the
    Senate Intelligence Committee, but said Saturday that he’ll
    withdraw his request if Comey testifies publicly.

George Papadopoulos, the former foreign-policy aide to President
Donald Trump’s campaign who
pleaded guilty
in the Russia investigation last year, took to
Twitter on Saturday to call for the former FBI director, James
Comey, to testify publicly about the FBI’s purported mishandling
of the Russia probe.

“If Jim Comey wants to testify in public and tell America who/why
in Trump’s advisory board was under FISA; who Joseph Mifsud is;
if the FBI had any role in my dealings with Charles Tawil; and
explain the UK and Australia’s surveillance role,” he tweeted,
“that would be good for the country.”

But Comey has been asking to testify publicly from the start.

Earlier this week, House Republicans — who will be a minority in
the lower chamber of Congress come January — made a last-minute
push to subpoena Comey and former attorney general Loretta Lynch.

Comey acknowledged the news Thursday, tweeting, “Happy Thanksgiving. Got a
subpoena from House Republicans. I’m still happy to sit in the
light and answer all questions. But I will resist a ‘closed door’
thing because I’ve seen enough of their selective leaking and
distortion. Let’s have a hearing and invite everyone to see.”

Democrats have also called for an open hearing, though
Republicans are pushing for a closed-door session as they
continue their investigation into whether the FBI allowed
anti-Trump bias to affect its handling of the ongoing Russia
investigation.


James Comey
James
Comey.

Win
McNamee/Getty


Papadopoulos, meanwhile, reportedly wanted immunity in exchange
for testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Legal
experts said the request indicated the former Trump aide may be
worried his testimony could implicate him in a crime.


Read more:
 George
Papadopoulos dumped by his own lawyers as the former Trump aide
embarks on a ‘self-defeating gambit’

But Papadopoulos backed away from his request Saturday.

“If Jim Comey agrees to answer the below questions in a public
testimony, I will agree to testify to the senate without
immunity,” Papadopoulos tweeted. “It’s a win-win for the country.
America first.”

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI last
year and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. At his sentencing
hearing in September, he expressed remorse for his actions,
saying he was “grateful” for the opportunity to help
the investigation and had “nothing but respect for the Court and
the legal process.”

But the former Trump aide soon adopted a very different tone.

After his sentencing hearing, Papadopoulos tweeted that the FBI’s
investigation was “the biggest case of entrapment!” The next day,
Papadopoulos said he was considering withdrawing his guilty plea
because he believed he was framed.

Several days later, he tweeted that he had been sentenced “while
having exculpatory evidence hidden from me.”

He added that if he had known that at the time, he never would
have pleaded guilty. And on November 9, Papadopoulos tweeted that
his “biggest regret” was pleading guilty.

He has since deleted those tweets.

Read more: Mueller
used George Papadopoulos’ own tweets against him in a new court
filing


Robert Mueller
Robert Mueller.
Alex
Wong/Getty Images


Papadopoulos hired new lawyers in September as he and his wife
took to Twitter and the media to promote the unfounded
theory that he was 
entrapped by the FBI,
who he said wanted to “infiltrate” and “sabotage” the Trump
campaign.

Earlier this month, Papadopoulos’ former defense lawyers filed a
motion pulling out from representing him.

DOJ veterans pointed out that it’s unusual for lawyers to file
paperwork to formally withdraw from a case.

Elie Honig, a former prosecutor from the Southern
District of New York who specialized in organized-crime cases,
said it was likely that Papadopoulos’ “lawyers are trying to
disassociate with him because of the conspiracy theories he’s
spreading, or perhaps they told him to knock it off, and he’s not
listening.”

If Papadopoulos is seriously considering withdrawing his
guilty plea, he would have to show a judge he was somehow misled
or coerced into pleading guilty, and that the plea was not fully
voluntary. On a practical level, that would set a defendant up to
argue that his lawyers didn’t explain the full terms of the plea
correctly or lied to him.

In that case, Papadopoulos’ lawyers may also have withdrawn
because they’d no longer be able to represent him due to a
conflict of interest.

Withdrawing a guilty plea is extraordinarily difficult. And
if Papadopoulos does succeed, he may find himself in deeper
trouble than he was in before because his indictment would
resurface and he would not have the option of pleading guilty
with an agreement to cooperate.

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