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Papadopoulos: I don't think I incriminated Trump
Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos said Sunday that he does not believe he incriminated President Trump in cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's election interference.
Papadopoulos said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that he was "taken off guard" by the investigation because he didn't "understand the nature of what was going on."
"At the time of my interview with the FBI, I think around three or four days before that, I was at the inauguration attending parties with senior level transition officials," Papadopoulos said.
"I understood that there was an incipient investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and I found myself as somebody who worked incredibly hard over the past year with the campaign to have ... candidate Trump be elected. And then I found myself pinned between the Department of Justice and the sitting president and having probing questions that I thought might incriminate the president," he continued.
Asked if he was trying to "protect the president" the former Trump campaign adviser replied, "Of course."
"I didn't understand the nature of what was going on," Papadopoulos said. "Of course I'm remorseful, I'm contrite and I did lie [to the FBI] but you know you're just taken off guard, I guess, in such a momentous occasion where you're potentially sitting there incriminating the president. Even though, of course, I don't think I did."
"That was probably in the back of my mind, of what exactly am I doing here talking about Russian hacking or election interference with a candidate that I just worked for," he added.
Papadopoulos on Friday was sentenced to 14 days in federal prison and one year supervised release for lying to FBI investigators about his Russia contacts during the 2016 election. Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty in October to lying to FBI agents, is the first Trump campaign official to be sentenced as part of Mueller's probe.
Asked if he thought the conclusion of Mueller's investigation would demonstrate that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Papadopoulos said he had "no idea," but that his testimony might yield evidence against Trump advisers.
"I have no idea, all I can say is that my testimony might have helped move something towards that. But I have no idea."