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Story highlights

Michael Caputo says Papadopoulos's role in campaign was small

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI about interactions with foreign officials close to the Russian government

(CNN) —  

Former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo downplayed George Papadopoulos’ role in the 2016 campaign, calling him a volunteer “coffee boy” – despite the fact that then-candidate Donald Trump called him an “excellent guy” last year.

“He never showed up at Trump Tower. Never had any interaction with any of the campaign leaders around me, and the leaders of the Washington office of the campaign didn’t even know who he was until his name appeared in the press,” Caputo told CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday.

On Monday, it was revealed that Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser for the Trump presidential campaign, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about interactions with foreign officials close to the Russian government.

Trump described Papadopoulos by name in 2016 as an “excellent guy” when listing his advisers for foreign policy to The Washington Post. An image released on Trump’s Instagram account last year also shows Papadopoulos seated at the same table with Trump and then-Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who was leading Trump’s national security advisory team, during a meeting.

Caputo, however, suggested Papadopoulos had no serious role in the campaign’s inner workings.

“He was the coffee boy,” Caputo said. “You might have called him a foreign policy analyst, but if he was going to wear a wire, all we would have known now is whether he prefers a caramel macchiato over a regular American coffee in conversations with his barista.”

Caputo added that the former foreign policy adviser’s “contact with alleged Russians is completely beyond the scope of his volunteer duties.”

On Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders also tried to deride Papadopoulos as a mere volunteer because he was unpaid. But the fact that Papadopoulos was unpaid puts him in line with many on Trump’s campaign and in no way gauges his stature in the operation.