George Papadopoulous is the ultimate man in the middle. He is sitting above between Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump during the campaign — around the time when Trump was touting the young oil and gas adviser as one of his key foreign affairs advisers. Now he is the man in the middle of President Trump and Robert Mueller and that is not an ideal place to be when the stakes could be the White House itself. Papadopoulous got a taste of his new life with a tweet from President Trump calling him a liar. It was a curious attack since Trump had previously labeled this “liar” as an “excellent” guy.
Trump tweeted that “Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the DEMS!”
Once again, the President’s running commentary on witnesses and claims in the Russian investigation is a uniquely bad idea and this particular attack is even worse. While the White House has sought to downplay Papadopoulos, it was the President who previously played him up. Trump named Papadopoulos to his foreign policy advisory council in March 2016, among a short list of experts with foreign policy expertise. During a March 21, 2016 meeting with The Washington Post editorial board, Trump called Papadopoulos an “excellent guy.”
It is the same conflicted position that was evident in the wake of the Manafort indictment when a White House source dismissed the indictment on the ground that these were “bad guys” before and they were “bad guys” when they left. Yet, like Papadopoulos, these were men that Trump place into critical positions in this campaign.
Of course, the false statements by Papadopoulos do not implicate Trump or the White House. Yet, the early effort to label Papadopoulos as a liar conveys a degree of unease over what he may disclose to prosecutors. In the meantime, prosecutors may want to establish when Papadopoulos went from an excellent advisor to a habitual liar.