CNN anchors on Tuesday mocked President Donald Trump for taking to Twitter to dismiss an adviser-turned-witness as a “liar.”
But Trump’s description of former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos is literally true — Papadopoulos pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to the FBI.
The independent counsel's office revealed the guilty plea Monday when a judge unsealed indictments against former campaign head Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates. Papadopoulos admitted to lying to FBI agents in January about his attempts to get dirt on 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during conversations with Russians during the campaign.
Court documents called Papadopoulos a "proactive cooperator," which legal experts have said means he was wearing a wire.
Trump on Tuesday sought to discredit Papadopoulos, calling him a "low-level volunteer" who has "already proven to be a liar."
CNN anchor John Berman grilled Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) about the president's tweet.
"When you see the president write this morning, as he did, calling George Papadopolous a liar, though, is that letting the investigation proceed?" he asked. "And you are a lawyer. Is this something you would advise him to do? … Is this something you're comfortable with him doing?"
Lance made the obvious observation about Papadopoulos: "I believe that there's been a guilty plea based on not telling the truth to federal authorities."
CNN anchor Poppy Harlow made a distinction between Papadopoulos' false statements to the FBI in January and what he might be telling special counsel Robert Mueller's team now.
"I think the difference is the context in which the president is calling him a liar, because he's a cooperative witness now that could not be helpful to the administration," she said.
Later, Harlow returned to the theme that "context" matters.
"True, he did plead guilty to lying to the FBI about his own attempts to get dirt on Hillary Clinton," she said. "But also, not exactly the context, I think, the president meant it in this morning."
Berman noted that Trump once said Papadopoulos was an "excellent guy" during a meeting with The Washington Post editorial board.
"The White House strategy this morning is very clear — diminish, deny, attack," Berman said.
Jennifer Rodgers, a former federal prosecutor, told CNN that it was a "dangerous tactic" for Trump to try to undermine Papadopoulos.
On his LinkedIn page, Papadopoulos, 30, calls himself an "independent oil and gas consultant." In addition to the Trump campaign, he lists work on Ben Carson's campaign for president, and four years of work at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think thank, as a "research associate." But when contacted by LifeZette, the Hudson Institute said that Papadopoulos was an unpaid intern who helped out on a few contracts.
"Our records indicate that Mr. Papadopoulos started at Hudson Institute as an unpaid intern in 2011 and subsequently provided research assistance on a contractual basis to one of our senior fellows in 2013 and 2014," a statement from the Hudson Institute reads. "Mr. Papadopoulos was never a salaried employee of Hudson Institute, and the Institute has had no relationship with him since 2014."
On Laura Ingraham's radio show on Tuesday morning, Roger Stone, a longtime friend of the president who was a campaign adviser in 2015, said he'd never heard of Papadopoulos before this week.
"He had no authority, he wasn't on the payroll, he wasn't a staff member. He can write any email he wants, but he never had any authority to set up meetings with anybody," he said.
Last Modified: October 31, 2017, 2:01 pm