George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, appears to have inadvertently caught President Donald Trump in a lie of his own, Politico reports.
Trump has claimed that “very few people” knew Papadopoulos in the campaign and described him as a low-level volunteer.
That’s not how Papadopoulos remembers it.
The former adviser told two Greek journalists during and after the 2016 election that Trump personally called him to talk about his new role on the campaign and had a personal meeting with him that the White House has not acknowledged.
Papadopoulos told the journalists he was given a “blank check” to select a senior job in the Trump administration and the campaign authorized him to represent Trump in meetings with foreign leaders abroad, as well as at a campaign event in New York.
He says Trump spoke to him for about five minutes and invited him to attend a campaign event in the still-unfinished Trump Pennsylvania Avenue hotel a few days later.
According to Papadopoulos, Trump told him that he was recommended by former candidate and now HUD Secretary Ben Carson.
“When he left the race and supported Trump, [Carson] suggested that the young Greek-American join the team,” Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported last year.
Papadopoulos and Trump had “a telephone appointment, which did not last for more than five minutes, but shortly before closing, the candidate then invited him to a speech,” the report said.
Trump then not only named Papadopoulos as a foreign policy adviser during a meeting with The Washington Post editorial board but also singled him out for praise.
“He’s an energy and oil consultant,” Trump said. “Excellent guy.”
The journalists that Papadopoulos made the claims to also cautioned that they were skeptical because the adviser is prone to “exaggeration.”
“Everyone knows I helped him [get] elected, now I want to help him with the presidency,” he told one of the journalists in a text that he later published.
The Kathimerini newspaper reporter, Marianna Kakaounaki, also revealed that Papadopoulos has enjoyed quite a bit of newfound fame in Greece.
“He had acquired a new status in Athens,” she reported, adding that Papadopoulos was “bestowed with awards, wined and dined by prominent Athenians and even appointed to the judging committee of a beauty pageant on a Greek island.”
“During our interview, I felt that he was probably lucky, having just met Trump in person and then Trump being interviewed and mentioning his name,” Kakaounaki told Politico. “That mention opened a lot of Greek doors for him, and probably in other countries too.”
While Papadopoulos may be prone to exaggeration, he has already caught several top Trump officials in a lie, suggesting there may be more truth to his story than his shady personality suggests. Sessions and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski were forced to suddenly remember their interactions with the adviser about Russia and possible dirt on Hillary Clinton. They may soon be forced to remember he had a bigger role in the early days of the campaign than they recall.