The former Trump campaign adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents in October was in frequent contact with high-level campaign officials, according to his fiancee.
Simona Mangiante, the Italian fiancee of George Papadopolous, tells ABC News that the former Trump aide was not a low-level staffer or a "coffee boy" as the campaign has made him out to be, but rather a well-connected member of the team.
“First of all, I would love George to learn how to make a coffee, because it's absolutely out of his skills,” she joked to ABC. “George is a remarkable young man with incredible experience in the field of energy and oil policies. This experience led him to get into the campaign and to advise the president at only 28 years old."
Papadopoulos was charged in October for allegedly lying to investigators about his contact with a Russian woman whom he thought to be Russian President Vladimir Putin's niece, whom he worked with "in an effort to arrange a meeting between the campaign and Russian government officials," according to the FBI.
Mangiante said that reaching out to Russian officials would have been typical for her fiancee, who she says was "constantly in touch" with high-level superiors.
Papadopolous "set up meetings with leaders all over the world” for senior campaign officials, Mangiante said, adding he was “constantly in touch with high-level officials in the campaign."
“He never took any initiative, as far as I know, [that was] unauthorized. All the initiatives had [the] blessing of the campaign,” she said.
“He was very brave and decent to take responsibility,” Mangiante said.
“George is very loyal to his country," she added, before calling her fiancee “the first domino in the Russia investigation.”
The characterization of Papadopoulos's role comes in stark contrast to comments made by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in October.
“He reached out and nothing happened after that,” Sanders said of Papadopoulos at the time. “It shows his importance within the campaign and that he didn’t coordinate anything in the campaign.”