In 2016, Trump Called Papadopoulos An ‘Excellent Guy.’ Today He’s A ‘Liar’

President Donald Trump speaks during an event to declare the opioid crisis a "Public Health Emergency," in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Evan Vucci/AP

President Donald Trump has apparently changed him mind about a former foreign policy adviser to his campaign.

After court documents detailing campaign adviser George Papadopoulos’ lies to federal agents about his contacts with Russia were unsealed Monday, Trump flip-flopped on Papadopoulos, a man he once described as an “excellent guy.”

During an interview with The Washington Post editorial board in March 2016, Trump outlined the members of his foreign policy team for the newspaper, including Papadopoulos as one of the five members of the group, which also included Carter Page, political pundit Walid Phares, former inspector general for the Department of Defense Joe Schmitz and retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg at the time.

“He’s an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy,” Trump said of Papadopoulos at the time.

With the White House characterizing Papadopoulos as a volunteer — who press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said was only involved with one meeting — on Monday, Trump’s attempts to distance himself from his former campaign adviser were clear.

On Tuesday morning he made his disdain public, calling Papadopoulos a “proven liar” who was a “young, low level volunteer.”

Trump’s not wrong that the foreign adviser could be called a “proven liar.” Court documents released Monday showed that Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his contacts with a professor whom he knew had substantial links to the Russian government. A campaign supervisor at the time had encouraged Papadopoulos to take a meeting in Russia with government officials “if it is feasible,” according to the unsealed documents.

The White House on Monday pushed back on revelations that someone in the campaign sent Papadopoulos an email encouraging a “low level” campaign member to take the trip to Russia, saying any actions Papadopoulos took “would have been his own.”

Monday was a rocky day for the Trump administration and former members of his inner circle.

Just before the Papadopoulos documents were released, Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Manafort’s business associate turned themselves in to federal authorities after the pair was charged with 12 counts related to money laundering and other alleged crimes.

Both the Manafort charges and the Papadopoulos case are part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with the foreign power to win the election.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.
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