WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump sought on Tuesday to minimize the role played in his campaign by former adviser George Papadopoulos after he was named in the investigation into presumed Russian interference in the 2016 election after pleading guilty to lying to US authorities about his contacts with individuals connected to Moscow.
“Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the DEMS!” wrote Trump on his Twitter account.
This statement contrasts with comments about Papadopoulos that Trump made during an interview with The Washington Post’s editorial board in March 2016.
As the daily has reported in the past few hours, Trump said at the time that Papadopoulos, one of his foreign policy advisers, was an “energy and oil consultant” and an “excellent guy.”
The office of Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor heading the Russia investigation, on Monday disclosed that Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty earlier in October to lying to FBI agents in January regarding a conversation he had in April 2016 with “an overseas professor” who had connections to the Kremlin.
In that conversation, the professor promised Papadopoulos that he had – or could provide – “thousands” of e-mails with compromising information about then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
In addition, Papadopoulos admitted that he also lied to the FBI about his efforts to try and set up meetings between Trump campaign members and Kremlin officials, even including a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Along with Papadopoulos’s guilty plea, on Monday the first charges filed in Mueller’s probe into Russia’s supposed interference in the US election and whether there was coordination between the Kremlin and Trump’s campaign were made public.
Those charges, including “conspiracy against the United States,” were filed against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his ex-business partner Rick Gates.
Both men pleaded not guilty and a Washington judge ordered them to remain under house arrest and set huge bail amounts.
Just as he had done on Monday, Trump on Tuesday took to Twitter again to mention the charges against Manafort regarding his financial links with pro-Russian leaders in Ukraine, saying that those activities took place “long before” he joined the mogul’s campaign, adding that there was “no collusion” between his team and the Kremlin.
Trump once again accused the media of publishing “fake news” about the Russia probe and urged people to “focus on our Massive Tax Cuts for Business (jobs) and the Middle Class (in addition to Democrat corruption)!”
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted on Tuesday that there is no proof of Moscow’s alleged interference in the US election.