President Donald Trump wasted little time in trying to distance himself from former campaign aide George Papadopoulos after it was revealed on Monday that Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty of lying to federal investigators about trying to coordinate with Russian agents.
According to court documents, Papadopoulos had sought to discuss “dirt” related to Hillary Clinton’s hacked emails with a Russia contact with ties to the Kremlin. Papadopoulos lied to investigators about making these attempts, and pleaded guilty earlier this month to these charges.
His guilty plea, and the fact that special counsel Robert Mueller allowed him to plea down to a lesser charge, has many pundits guessing — including some on the right — that he’s been cooperating with the investigation for the past few months.
Trump on Tuesday tried to downplay what role Papadopoulos played within his campaign, however, and attempted to make it sound as if he were simply a volunteer with no real connections to the president.
....came to the campaign. Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the DEMS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2017
Trump said that few people even “knew the young, low level volunteer named George.” But that contradicts statements he made himself during his campaign in March last year. When asked to name some of his foreign policy experts, Trump named Papadopoulos without any trouble at all.
“George Papadopoulos, he’s an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy,” Trump said at the time, according to the Washington Post.
Trump also tweeted out an image of him at a meeting with Papadopoulos and other foreign policy experts.
In other words, Trump wants you to believe that a man he knew on his campaign two springs ago, who he was able to point out to reporters by name, was merely a campaign volunteer nobody knew.
Yet Papadopoulos was on Trump’s radar at least 19 months ago. And he was sending emails to higher-ups, who said his attempts at trying to contact Russian agents was “great work.”
Trump can try to play this off as Papadopoulos being some guy he knows nothing about. But his strategy of downplaying his relationship with him, who Trump was able to name to reporters, has some huge holes in it that will likely be noticed by Mueller and other investigators.
The most disheartening part about Trump’s lies, however, is that he’s telling the American people one version of events that is demonstrably false.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters