Trump tries to distance himself from ex-adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to FBI

In his first response to George Papadopoulos’ guilty plea, President Donald Trump today attempted to distance himself from the foreign policy adviser who joined his 2016 campaign and later served on a presidential international business advisory council.

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“Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar,” Trump tweeted this morning.

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty this month to lying to FBI officials about his communications with Russian nationals in an effort to arrange a meeting between Trump campaign and Russian officials. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team unsealed the documents in the case against Papadopoulos on Monday as part of its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow argued on “Good Morning America” today that Papadopoulos’ offense was “no crime of collusion.”

Papadopoulos most recently served as an independent oil, gas and policy consultant for the International Presidential Business Advisory Council, according to his LinkedIn account.

He was a volunteer for the campaign and his role was “extremely limited,” the White House said Monday.

Papadopoulos was seated at the table with Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a March 31 meeting with the president’s national security team.

During a visit to Washington Post headquarters in March last year, Trump revealed the names of his foreign policy team and mentioned Papadopoulos as an “excellent guy.”

Tom Brenner/The New York Times/ReduxWhite House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders fields questions from reporters during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Oct. 30, 2017.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday that Trump was being nothing more than “complimentary on behalf of the campaign” at the time.

Trump has argued that the focus of Mueller’s investigation should be on Hillary Clinton and other Democrats.

What you need to know about Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to FBI

Paul Manafort and Rick Gates indictment: The full text

Along with Papadopoulos’ guilty plea, Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and deputy campaign manager Rick Gates were indicted on 12 counts, including money laundering and failing to disclose work as foreign agents. They pleaded not guilty.

“As Paul [Manafort’s] lawyer said, there was ‘no collusion’ and events mentioned took place long before he came to the campaign,” Trump tweeted.

The indictment released by the special counsel on Monday alleges that Manafort acted as an unregistered agent of the Ukrainian government from 2006 to 2015. According to the document, he was laundering Ukrainian payments from 2006 through at least 2016 to hide them from the U.S. government. He joined the Trump campaign in March 2016.

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