Trump blasts former aide at center of Russia probe as ‘liar’


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that a former campaign aide thrust into the center of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe “has already proven to be a liar.”

On Twitter, Trump sought to dismiss George Papadopoulos, who has provided key evidence in the first criminal case connecting Trump’s team to alleged intermediaries for Russia’s government.

Said Trump: “Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the DEMS!”

Papadopoulos was approached by people claiming ties to Russia and offering “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails, according to court documents unsealed Monday. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about the conversations and has been cooperating with investigators, the documents said.

Papadopoulos’ guilty plea and the possibility that he’s working with Mueller’s team came as an unexpected twist in the mounting drama surrounding the criminal probe. A separate welter of charges Mueller announced Monday against Trump’s ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime aide Rick Gates do not appear directly related to their work for Trump.

But Papadopoulos’ case cuts close to the central question of Mueller’s investigation: Did Russia try to sway the election? Did Trump’s campaign know?

“The Russians had emails of Clinton,” Papadopoulos was told by an unnamed professor with ties to Russia during a breakfast meeting at a London hotel in April. U.S. investigators said that the following day, Papadopoulos then emailed a Trump campaign policy adviser, “Have some interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right.”

Papadopoulos was arrested in July and has been interviewed repeatedly by authorities, the filing said. After entering his guilty plea he was ordered not to contact other Trump officials and prohibited from foreign travel. In one of the unsealed files, an FBI agent working for Mueller bluntly hinted that more former Trump associates could soon be questioned.

Papadopoulos’ lawyer, Thomas M. Breen, based in Chicago, declined to comment on the guilty plea but noted that “we will have the opportunity to comment on George’s involvement when called upon by the court at a later date. We look forward to telling all of the details of George’s story at that time.”

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