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Trump diminishes Papadopoulos, former foreign policy adviser, as a 'young, low-level volunteer'

FILE -- From left, Rick Gates, a longtime protégé and junior partner of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, joins Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump at the podium during a run-through of Trump's speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 21, 2016. Gates surrendered to federal authorities on Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, after a person close to the case said the first charges were filed in a special counsel investigation. (Sam Hodgson/The New York Times copyright 2017 / New York Times)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday belittled George Papadopoulos, the former foreign policy adviser who tried to broker connections between Trump campaign and Russian officials, as a "young, low-level volunteer" as he sought to distance himself and his campaign from the special counsel's investigation.

In a trio of tweets issued Tuesday, Trump chastised the media for coverage of Monday's three indictments stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller's far-reaching probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Making his first comment about Papadopoulos, the former campaign adviser who admitted to making a false statement to the FBI about trying to meet with Russians offering "dirt" on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton based on stolen Democratic emails, Trump called him "a liar."

As for Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, Trump continued to argue Tuesday that Manafort's alleged misdeeds related to his international business work that began years before working for Trump's campaign.

Trump tweeted, "The Fake News is working overtime. As Paul Manaforts lawyer said, there was 'no collusion' and events mentioned took place long before he....came to the campaign. Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the DEMS!"

Trump sought to redirect the media's focus to what he termed "Democrat corruption." The president wrote that the "biggest story" was that Tony Podesta, a prominent Washington-based Democratic lobbyist whose brother, John, was Clinton's campaign chairman, abruptly stepped down from his firm on Monday. The Podesta Group was not named in the indictments released Monday, but the firm and another lobbying firm, Mercury Public Affairs, worked with Manafort from 2012 to 2014 to help improve the image of the Ukrainian government.

Trump tweeted, "The biggest story yesterday, the one that has the Dems in a dither, is Podesta running from his firm. What he know about Crooked Dems shattering. He and his brother could Drain The Swamp, which would be yet another campaign promise fulfilled. Fake News weak!"

As Podesta announced his departure from his namesake firm on Monday, he reportedly told employees, "It is impossible to run a public affairs firm while you are under attack by Fox News and the right wing media."

For several days now, Trump, as well as White House officials and outside allies, have been demanding more scrutiny - both from the media and from Mueller's team - on Clinton controversies.

Author Information: Philip Rucker is the White House Bureau Chief for The Washington Post. He previously has covered Congress, the Obama White House, and the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns. He joined The Post in 2005 as a local news reporter.