The US president described George Papadopoulos, who's admitted lying over Russian contacts, as a 'low level volunteer'.
Donald Trump has spoken out about the latest twists in the federal probe into Russian electoral interference – but when face to face with reporters on Tuesday, he ignored their questions.
Earlier, in a series of tweets the president again denied collusion with the Russians, repeating that the charges against Paul Manafort relate to a period before his involvement with the Trump campaign.
He belittled George Papadopoulos as a low level volunteer and a proven liar. His ex-foreign policy adviser has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the timing of meetings with alleged go-betweens for Russia.
Papadopoulos, who’s said to be cooperating with the investigation, said he was told the Russians possessed dirt on Hillary Clinton and the meetings took place while he was working for Trump.
The Associated Press has confirmed the identities of two foreign nationals at the centre of contacts between Russia and Trump’s former adviser.
Emails obtained by the news agency show the conversations, cited in court papers, were with Joseph Mifsud left and Ivan Timofeev right, both closely linked to the diplomatic world.
The Kremlin has said that the US charges unfairly malign Moscow over accusations that it meddled in last year’s presidential election – something it’s always denied.