New York: Alexander Downer has distanced himself from a bizarre Twitter tirade launched against him by Donald Trump's former foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, saying "I'll leave others to make judgments about the veracity of those tweets".
Papadopoulos, who was last week sentenced to 14 days in jail for lying to the FBI, sent out a series of tweets suggesting Downer was part of an elaborate conspiracy involving British spy agency MI6 and "private intelligence organisations" to damage the Trump campaign.
He even included a reference that the former Australian foreign minister had once worn women's stockings.
Mr Downer, who is still based in London, but collected an honorary doctorate at the University of Adelaide on Tuesday, made it clear he believed the contents of the tweets to be baseless, and indicated he had not been following the Papadopoulos trial.
Last December The New York Times reported that over drinks in London in May 2016 Papadopoulos told Downer, then Australia's ambassador to the United Kingdom, that Russia had "political dirt" on Clinton.
Downer reportedly relayed this information to Australian authorities, who then passed it along to their American counterparts, leading the FBI to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign.
This inquiry would later be folded into the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
The former Trump campaign adviser, who reportedly sparked an FBI investigation into potential Russian collusion between Trump campaign and the Russian government, strongly implied in his tweets that, contrary to news reports, he never told Downer that Russia had obtained a trove of Hillary Clinton's emails.
Papadopoulos wrote that Downer had wanted to meet him in London under "incredibly suspicious circumstances".
"I found it so odd that Downer, who gained notoriety in Australia for wearing women's fish nets, invited me to 'order' me to stop 'bothering' his good friend David Cameron," Papadopoulos said in a subsequent tweet.
"And told me my views were hostile to British interests."
(Downer famously posed in fishnet stockings in 1996 for charity.)
In subsequent tweets Papadopoulos suggested Downer was close to the Clintons.
"So basically, for those paying attention, we have a Clinton friend, connected to the MI6, and private intelligence organisations in London, probing me about my ties to the energy business offshore Israel," he wrote. "Nothing about the US-Australia relationship.
"Yet I supposedly told THAT individual about emails. Something I have no recollection ever discussing."
A few hours later he tweeted: "The notion that Downer randomly reached out to me just to have a gin and tonic is laughable.
"Some organisation or entity sent him to meet me.
"For the sake of our republic and the integrity of this investigation, I think it's time Downer is as exposed as Christoper [sic] Steele.
"Would be a very very big problem if British intelligence was weopanized [sic] against an American citizen."
In a recent interview with The New York Times Papadopoulos said he had told the Greek foreign minister that Russia had obtained Clinton campaign emails.
But he said he did not recall mentioning this to Downer and insisted he did not communicate it to other officials in the Trump campaign, even though it would have been extremely valuable information.
Papadopoulos was told about the email breach by Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese academic with close connections to the Russian government.
Fairfax Media has requested comment from Downer, who has publicly said he was told by Papadopoulos that Russia had obtained damaging information on Clinton.
Downer then said he relayed this in an official cable to Canberra.
Last October, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents relating to contacts he had with Russian agents while working for the Trump campaign.
The guilty plea was part of a plea bargain reflecting his cooperation with the Mueller investigation.
Trump subsequently tried to downplay Papadopoulos's role in the campaign, where he served as part of his foreign advisory team.
“Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Last Friday Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in prison, 12 months of supervised release, and 200 hours of community service. He was also fined $US9,500 ($13,300).