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Mueller Lawyer Called Papadopoulos Plea ‘Small Part’ of Larger Investigation

Robert Mueller / Getty Images
Robert Mueller / Getty Images
• October 30, 2017 9:30 pm

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A lawyer working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation told a federal judge earlier this month that the first guilty plea of the investigation is only a "small part" of a larger probe.

"Your Honor, the criminal justice interest being vindicated here is there's a large scale ongoing investigation of which this case is a small part," Aaron Zelinsky said.

Zelinksy appeared at an Oct. 5 hearing for Donald Trump's former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos to detail his guilty plea to one count of making false statements, BuzzFeed reported:

The question arose when US District Judge Randolph Moss asked Zelinsky to explain what interests would justify the court allowing Papadopoulos to waive his rights to seek information about the government's case against him under the Freedom of Information Act.

Papadopoulos appeared in federal court for the hearing, at which Moss detailed the provisions of the plea agreement. A transcript of the hearing details that the former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser initially was charged with one count of "deletion or destruction of records" — in addition to the "false statement" charge to which he pleaded guilty.

In resolving the FOIA issue, Zelinsky suggested just how key Papadopoulos has been to aspects of the special counsel's investigation.

"The other important factor in this case is that in the process of his ongoing efforts to cooperate, the Government has shared substantial information with the Defendant that has provided a road map of sorts, if you will, to information that might then be sought on FOIA," he said.

Papadopoulos' lawyer Robert Stanley said that his client "at this time has no intention of issuing FOIA requests," which led to the parties eventually agreeing to a provision that would limit  Papadopoulos from being able to file any FOIA requests during the rest of the Mueller investigation.

Papadopoulos' guilty plea and other matters of the case were sealed until Monday.

Trump's former presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime business partner Rick Gates were told on Monday to surrender to federal authorities and are the first to be charged in Mueller's investigation.

The indictment against Manafort and Gates contains 12 counts, including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false statements, false and misleading FARA statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.