Trump tries to distance himself from George Papadopoulos

(ABC NEWS) -- 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.

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

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

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

Papadopoulos was only a volunteer on the campaign and that his role was "extremely limited," the White House said Monday.

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

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

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

Trump has also argued that the focus on Mueller's investigation should be on the Democrats and his 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Along with Papadopoulos' guilty plea, Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort and Trump's deputy campaign manager Rick Gates were indicted on 12 counts including money laundering and failing to disclose their 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 Monday alleges that Manafort acted as an unregistered agent of the Ukranian government between 2006 and 2015. But Manafort was laundering Ukraine payments from 2006 through at least 2016 to hide it from the U.S. government, according to the document. Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016.

© 2017 ABC News


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