George Papadopoulos meeting with UK during Trump campaign revealed

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Media caption,

George Papadopoulos: The Trump adviser who lied to the FBI

Dismissed by the White House as a "low-level volunteer", more about the true status of adviser George Papadopoulos seems to emerge by the day.

The Trump campaign foreign policy aide's contacts with Russians have already got him in trouble. He has admitted lying to the FBI about them.

But it is now revealed he also met a British Foreign Office official, two months before the US presidential election, for a "working level" meeting.

"As you would expect in the run up to an election we seek to build links with figures in both the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns," a Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman told the BBC, confirming the meeting. "This type of outreach is normal diplomatic business."

While such meetings may be routine diplomacy, the fact that Papadopoulos was presenting himself to the government of one of the US's closest allies as a representative of the Trump campaign undercuts the White House's recent assertion that Papadopoulos was a campaign volunteer of little importance.

"It was extremely limited," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on 30 October, when questioned about Papadopoulos's role in the Trump campaign. "It was a volunteer position. And again, no activity was ever done in an official capacity on behalf of the campaign. He was a volunteer on the campaign."

Image source, Reuters

Mr Trump himself tweeted the following day that "few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar".

The White House has not yet responded to inquiries from the BBC for comment on the matter.

We don't know whether Papadopoulos was operating in an official capacity for the Trump campaign or simply presenting himself that way without prior approval. Given that through much of 2016 the Trump team operated on a shoestring budget, with little in the way of traditional campaign hierarchy or structure, the latter is entirely possible.

Finding it all hard to follow?

When it comes down to it, however, the British government apparently treated him with the type of deference due to a top-level political adviser.

Word of the Papadopoulos sit-down in London was first reported by Scott Stedman, a California university student, in a post on the website Medium. He writes that the Trump adviser met "an unidentified, high-ranking member of the UK's department that handles foreign affairs".

According to the indictment papers released by the independent counsel investigation into possible Trump campaign ties to Russia, Papadopoulos was in regular communication with high-level Trump campaign officials during much of 2016.

After being named by Mr Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers on 21 March, Papadopoulos attended a 31 March Washington, DC meeting with the candidate, then-Senator Jeff Sessions (now US attorney general) and other members of Mr Trump's national security team.

This Russia stuff - storm in a teacup?

Media caption,

'Lizard, liar, leaker' - Trump supporters on Comey and Russia investigation

In April, per the independent counsel's office, Papadopoulos communicated with a London-based professor, Joseph Mifsud, who introduced him via email to a Russian national with "connection to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs".

Mifsud subsequently informed Papadopoulos that the Russian government had "dirt" on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton through "thousands" of her emails.

Papadopoulos, with the blessing of Trump campaign co-chair Sam Clovis, would later explore the possibility of visiting Russia for an "off the record" meeting with Russian officials. He never did.

It seems, however, he had more success getting a face-to-face sit-down with the British government.