October 31, 2017 12:00 pm
Updated: October 31, 2017 2:47 pm

George Papadopoulos: Trump once called him ‘excellent guy,’ but now backtracks, calls him liar

ABOVE: Trump refuses to answer questions on previous Papadopoulos "great guy" comment.


George Papadopoulos, a former Donald Trump campaign aide, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contact with people who claimed to have ties to top Russian officials.

In reaction to the guilty plea (which was revealed in court documents Monday), the White House quickly dismissed Papadopoulos, calling him an “unimportant volunteer” who “few people knew.”

READ MORE: Paul Manafort, former Trump advisor, pleads not guilty to all charges in Russia probe

But Trump knew Papadopoulos. He was hired to work on his campaign in 2016, there is a photo of them sitting together at an advisory council meeting and Trump even called him an “excellent guy.”

WATCH: Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and associate indicted on 12 counts in Russia probe

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The news of Papadopoulos’s guilty plea came the same day that Trump’s ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime aide Rick Gates pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering and conspiracy against the U.S. The indictments do not appear directly related to their work for Trump.

Although the White House continues to downplay Papadopoulos, his case is the first criminal charge alleging links between Russia and the Trump campaign.

What is Trump saying?

On Tuesday, Trump took to Twitter and blasted Papadopoulos.

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

But, during a meeting with the Washington Post in March 2016, Trump called Papadopoulos an “excellent guy.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders also cast doubt on Papadopoulos’s involvement in the 2016 campaign, saying his role was “extremely limited” and that “no activity was ever done in an official capacity on behalf of the campaign.”

WATCH: White House says Papadopoulos had ‘extremely limited’ role with Trump campaign

In March 2016, Trump posted a picture on Instagram of his advisory council meeting, with Papadopoulos among a handful of advisers at the president’s table.

“Meeting with my national security team in #WashingtonDC. #Trump2016,” the post read.

According to the court documents, this is the same meeting, Papadopolous told Trump and other top campaigners about his discussions with Russian officials.

In response to this, Sanders said Trump does not recall specific details about this meeting.

Who is Papadopoulos?

In March 2016, Papadopoulos, 30,  who was living in London at the time, was hired to work on Trump’s presidential campaign as a foreign adviser. His focus was to improve U.S. relationships with Russia.

READ MORE: With first charges in Russia probe, Robert Mueller sends warning to Trump and aides

On his LinkedIn page, Papadopoulos said he is now an independent consultant and was a former adviser to Trump. The first line on the page reads: “President Trump recommendation about me: ‘George is an oil and gas consultant; excellent guy.”

What is his connection to Russia?

Right after Papadopolous was hired, documents said he met with an “unnamed” professor in Italy who he said had a “substantial connection to Russian government officials.” The professor was at first uninterested in Papadopoulos until he learned he was part of the Trump campaign, according to the documents.

Papadopoulos then met the professor in London. The professor was accompanied by an unidentified Russian woman introduced as a relative of Russian President Vladimir Putin with connections to senior Russian officials. (He later found out she was not related to Putin).

READ MORE: Donald Trump-Russia probe timeline of key events

He emailed several members of the Trump campaign telling them that he had met with the Russian officials and they had discussed arranging a meeting between the Trump campaign and the Russian leadership to “discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump.”

On March 31, Papadopoulos attended a national security meeting with Trump and other campaign advisers and told them he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin, documents said.

In April, Papadopoulos also said he was approached by people claiming ties to Russia and offering “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails.

WATCH: Investigation grows into Trump’s connections to Russia

Papadopoulos continued to correspond with the Trump campaign and with his Russian contacts about setting up a meeting and had at least one phone call with his campaign supervisor, documents revealed.

In August, an unidentified campaign supervisor encouraged Papadopoulos and another unidentified Trump campaign foreign policy adviser to “make the trip” to meet Russian officials if it is “feasible.”

The proposed trip to Moscow by Papadopoulos did not take place.

When did the FBI start questioning Papadopoulos?

In January 2017, Papadopoulos had an interview with the FBI, but he lied about his contact with the Russians officials, claiming they took place before he joined the Trump campaign.

Nearly a month later, the FBI interviewed him again.

The next day, he deactivated his Facebook account. A few days later, he stopped using his cellphone number and began using a new one.

READ MORE: Russia probe to be led by new special prosecutor, former FBI head Robert Mueller

On July 27, Papadopoulos was arrested at the Washington airport.

On Oct. 5, he pleaded guilty to misleading the FBI and signed a detailed statement of the offence, declaring it is “true and correct.” After entering his guilty plea he was ordered not to contact other Trump officials and prohibited from foreign travel.

The court documents also revealed Papadopoulos has been co-operating with investigators since his arrest.

WATCH: FBI confirms ‘active investigation’ into Trump officials’ Russian ties

— With files from Reuters and the Associated Press

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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