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Renato Mariotti @renato_mariotti
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THREAD: Why did Mueller ask the judge to begin the process of preparing for Papadopoulos's sentencing? (Short answer: His cooperation will be coming to an end in the upcoming months.)
1/ In today's filing, Mueller asked the judge to "refer this case for the preparation of a presentence investigation report." A presentence investigation report is a very lengthy and detailed report prepared by the Probation Department to aid the judge and parties for sentencing.
2/ The report would contain extensive details about the history of Papadopoulos and about his role in the offense--not just what he pleaded guilty to, but any information the government had about his criminal activity. It would also detail his criminal history.
3/ Federal prosecutors wait until *after* a defendant has finished cooperating to proceed with sentencing. The judge needs to consider the defendant's cooperation, and can't fully do that until it is completed.
4/ Pushing back the sentencing also ensures that the prosecutor keeps leverage. The fact that Mueller is asking for the report to be prepared doesn't mean that the sentencing is happening in the short-term, but it means that it will likely happen within the next several months.
5/ It is possible for Mueller to delay the sentencing even after the report is prepared--it will be sealed, so the public wouldn't see the report--but there is no reason for him to ask the court to order it to be prepared if Papadopoulos will cooperate past the next few months.
6/ In fact, if Mueller anticipated that Papadopoulos would render substantial cooperation after the report is prepared, he might have to move to supplement or amend the report if it became incomplete or inaccurate due to subsequent events.
7/ This suggests that Mueller does not expect that Papadopoulos will be a witness at any upcoming trial. It also suggests that if the cooperation of Papadopoulos results in any charges that have not yet been filed, those charges will be accompanied by guilty pleas.
8/ If Papadopoulos was cooperating against someone and charges hadn't yet been filed, his cooperation would be needed against that person unless a guilty plea was already in the works.
9/ Typically federal prosecutors do not give someone a cooperation deal unless their cooperation would lead to a chargeable case against someone else or provide substantial assistance in a case against someone. So what we still don't know is what Papadopoulos did to get his deal.
10/ As far as I can tell, none of the indictments or guilty pleas we know about had anything to do with Papadopoulos. That could mean he has cooperated against someone who will be charged and plead guilty at the same time (as Papadopoulos himself did).
11/ That could also mean that information that Papadopoulos provided in exchange for the cooperation deal did not pan out the way Mueller expected, either because later information suggested it was untrue or because there were issues with Papadopoulos as a witness.
12/ If that happened, Papadopoulos would lose his deal if Mueller had evidence that he wasn't actually doing his best to cooperate. But sometimes things fall through even if the cooperator does his best. Along those lines, what happens if Mueller needs Papadopoulos later?
13/ Papadopoulos could still be required to cooperate, although it would be harder to motivate him after his sentencing. Realistically, however, prosecutors are cautious about proceeding with scheduling sentencing for cooperators. They don't do it until the cooperation ends. /end
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