The fiancee of former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, is speaking out publicly to push back against claims by President Donald Trump and his team that Papadopoulos was just a "coffee boy" on the campaign.
Papadopoulos' fiancee, Simona Mangiante, told CNN in an interview that Papadopoulos was "everything but a coffee boy" who worked with senior members of the Trump campaign.
Papadopoulos' role on the Trump campaign has been the subject of intense debate
His fiancee said she is speaking out now because he cannot
Mangiante said she is speaking out now because her fiance cannot.
"His contributions to the campaign has been much more relevant than bringing coffee," she said. "I think they wanted to disassociate from the first person who decided to actively cooperate with the government, on the right side. And probably the easiest way out is to dismiss his personality and lower him to a low-level volunteer."
Papadopoulos' role on the Trump campaign has been the subject of intense debate since his guilty plea was made public by special counsel Robert Mueller in October. The court documents detailed how he reached out to a London professor with connections to the Russian government who had offered damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
After Papadopoulos' guilty plea was made public in October, President Donald Trump, the White House and Trump campaign officials downplayed his role.
"Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar," Trump tweeted the day after the guilty plea was made public.
"It was a volunteer position," said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. "And again, no activity was ever done in an official capacity on behalf of the campaign in that regard."
"He was the coffee boy," former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo told CNN.
But Mangiante, an Italian national, says her fiancee -- whom she first connected with in September 2016 -- was in touch with many high-level campaign officials during the campaign, and he worked with former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn during the transition. Papadopoulos is pictured in a March 2016 photo of then-candidate Trump meeting with his foreign policy team.
"He worked with Michael Flynn during the transition, and he was actively contributing to the foreign policy strategies for the campaign," Mangiante said. "He didn't take any initiative on his own without campaign approval."
As a foreign policy adviser, Papadopoulos made numerous attempts to connect the Trump campaign with senior officials in the Russian government.
Court documents show Papadopoulos emailed campaign officials in March 2016 about setting up a meeting in Moscow "between us (the Trump campaign) and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russia ties under President Trump."
A campaign supervisor, who was not named in the court documents but is now identified as Trump campaign adviser Sam Clovis, responded by saying "great work."
"I would encourage you" to "make the trip, if it is feasible," he later wrote.
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