Trump Tries to Downplay Role of “Low Level Volunteer” George Papadopoulos

During the campaign, the president praised the foreign policy aide as an “excellent guy.”

Bill Clark/ZUMA

President Donald Trump distanced himself from George Papadopoulos, the former campaign aide who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with Russian officials, claiming in a Tuesday tweet that Papadopoulos was nothing but a “low level volunteer.”

It was the president’s first public acknowledgement of Papadopoulos after it was revealed the former policy adviser was arrested in July for making false statements concerning his meetings with Russian officials. A meeting in April 2016 with a professor with close ties to Russia who offered damaging information on Hillary Clinton is said to have specifically raised investigators’ concerns.

Trump’s attempt to minimize Papadopoulos’ campaign role came despite having once praised him in a March 2016 interview as an “excellent guy,” referencing his work as an “energy and oil consultant.” 

Carter Page, another former Trump campaign aide with Russia links, told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Monday that he may have exchanged emails with Papadopoulos concerning Russia. “Again, there’s nothing major,” Page insisted.

On Tuesday, Trump also continued to falsely claim that the activities described in the indictment of Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman, took place long before he was tapped to run the campaign. The indictment specifically indicates that Manafort’s alleged wrongdoings continued into at least 2016.