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Sarah Sanders and Trump Surrogates Downplay Papadopoulos’ Role in the Campaign

With so much focus on George Papadopoulos today and his guilty plea, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Trump surrogates on cable news downplayed his role on the campaign.

Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign foreign policy advisor, lied to the FBI about his contacts with Russians, and while he had initially said he met with someone who claimed to have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton before his involvement in the campaign, the plea agreement states he “had already learned he would be a foreign policy advisor for the Campaign” when he met that individual.

That and other revelations in Papadopoulos’ case have raised more questions about the Trump campaign, but at today’s press briefing, the Press Secretary downplayed his role, despite how Papadopoulos had been touted by Trump as a foreign policy advisor and a member of the national security team.

Huckabee Sanders said today his role was “extremely limited” and “a volunteer position.”

Fox News’ John Roberts brought up the outreach Papadopoulos made to campaign officials to put together a meeting. She said, “He reached out and nothing happened beyond that, which I think shows 1) his level of importance in the campaign, and 2) shows what little role he had with coordinating anything officially for the campaign.”

CNN’s Jim Acosta asked how she can downplay his role when there’s a photo Trump posted touting his meeting with his campaign national security team, which included Papadopoulos. Huckabee Sanders responded, “the president has thousands of photographs with millions of people.”

She dismissed the “list that was read out in The Washington Post” Acosta cited.

And prior to the press briefing, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow spoke to Wolf Blitzer about the seismic news today.

Blitzer asked, “How worried are you that his involvement in the campaign–working with national security advisers to the then-candidate Donald Trump and also establishing these contacts with Russians who had information, supposedly dirt on Hillary Clinton–that could set the stage for what the special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into, possible collusion?”

Sekulow said, “I’m not concerned about it.” He told Blitzer that this comes down to Papadopoulos lying.

“George Papadopoulos served on a committee,” he continued. “As you know, campaigns have committees with various people on it. He was not a senior advisor to the Trump campaign, he was on a committee.”

And over on Fox News, also before the briefing, RNC spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said the following:

“As for this Papadopoulos character, who was an unpaid advisor, by the way, to the campaign, he had no personal connection with Donald Trump. In fact, there’s an August Washington Post story that says that in fact when he presented Manafort with the idea of the campaign meeting with Russians, it was rejected by Paul Manafort…There were no meetings with Russians, they were rejected.”

You can watch the videos above, via CNN and Fox News.

[image via screengrab]

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: josh@mediaite.com Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac