US President Donald Trump has played down the importance of an ex-campaign aide indicted in the Russia inquiry. He said his onetime foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos was a “low level volunteer” and “liar”. Mr Trump once called him an “excellent guy”.
Papadopoulos, 30, this month pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Kremlin-related contacts. Two other ex-aides have been charged as part of the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the US election.
The other two, former campaign chief Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, appeared in court on Monday to deny charges including money laundering.
In Tuesday morning’s tweets, Trump attempted to deflect scrutiny on to the Democratic party, or his tax reform proposals. He tweeted: “The Fake News is working overtime. As Paul Manaforts [sic] lawyer said, there was ‘no collusion’ and events mentioned took place long before he came to the campaign.
However, the indictment alleges Mr Manafort and Mr Gates conspired financial crimes from 2006-17, which does include the period over the summer when Mr Manafort served as manager for the Trump campaign.
“Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the DEMS!” Mr Trump’s tweets continued.
Papadopoulos appears in a photo that Mr Trump tweeted of himself in March 2016 hosting a national security meeting with his foreign policy team.
The main reaction to the allegations of meddling in the US election on Russian state TV is to make fun of it.
“Of course! Vladimir Putin is in charge of everything!” a Rossiya 1 TV presenter on one of the many stage-managed political talks that dominate Russian TV schedules says to audience laughter, as he looks at a CNN graphic linking Paul Manafort to President Vladimir Putin.
The main argument is that there is no evidence that links Moscow to any of this, and that the whole thing is part of an anti-Russian campaign.