August 25, 2019

As Russiagate rumbles on, the role of Joseph Mifsud has come under the spotlight, and moreover what has happened to this mysterious Maltese Professor…

In The Times newspaper on July 30th, appeared a short and succinct article, easily missed were it not for its intriguing headline: ‘Missing academic Joseph Mifsud at heart of Mueller investigation’. The academic in question, one may or may not have heard of, depending on the extent to which one is reliant on mainstream media for keeping abreast of the news. But anyone attempting to keep up with the complex and murky world of the Mueller investigation, may be familiar with the name of this mysterious and elusive figure.

For it is none other than Professor Mifsud, affiliated with both the Universities of Stirling and East Anglia in the UK, that was identified by the FBI as being the source of the information that Russia had ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton. And intriguingly, the same Professor Mifsud who disappeared in October 2017 and has been missing ever since. 

It was in April 2016 that Mifsud, who was qualified in education but somehow managed to find his way into the world of international diplomacy (becoming director of the London Academy of Diplomacy in 2012), reportedly met George Papadopoulos, foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign, where he is said to have told him that the Russian government had ‘dirt on Hillary Clinton’. This information was then allegedly passed by Papadopoulos to the Australian High Commissioner in London, before being repeated to US authorities; that effectively Papdopoulos had known about the DNC hack prior to it being carried out. In short, Mifsud was the key to the whole ‘Russiagate’ scandal.

At the beginning of the Mueller investigation, Mifsud was widely portrayed as a Russian spy in the Western media. He is described in the Mueller report as having ‘connections to Russia’ and ‘having maintained Russian contacts’ as if that was somehow conclusive proof he was working for the Russians. Former FBI director James Comey also wrote in an opinion column in the Washington Post in May this year where he stated bluntly that Mifsud was a ‘Russian agent’. However as the Mueller investigation has trundled on and been exposed for being nothing more than a performance along the lines of Hans Christian Anderson’s ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’, the argument being put forward by the Republicans that Mifsud is a Western intelligence operative is looking more plausible.

When Rep. Jim Jordan (R, Ohio) questioned Robert Mueller why it was that Mifsud was reported to have lied three times to the FBI but was never indicted, Mueller replied simply that “I can’t get into internal deliberations with regard to who or who would not be charged.” Jordan responded in disbelief: ‘The guy who launches everything, the guy who puts this whole story in motion, you can’t charge him.  I think that’s amazing.” Jordan then asked Mueller if Mifsud was Western or Russian intelligence, to which Mueller replied “Can’t get into that.” As Devin Nunes, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee said during his opening remarks, Mifsud “is widely portrayed as a Russian agent, but seems to have far more connections with Western governments, including our own FBI and our own State Department, than with Russia.”

Meanwhile, all interviews carried out with Mifsud before his disappearance deny the claim that he discussed Russian government ‘dirt on Hillary Clinton’ with George Paradopoulos. According to Robert Mueller’s report, in an interview with the FBI in February 2017, Mifsud “denied that he had advance knowledge that Russia was in possession of emails damaging to candidate Clinton, stating that he and Papadopoulos had discussed cybersecurity and hacking as a larger issue and that Papadopoulos must have misunderstood their conversation.”

Whether Papadopoulos misunderstood or not, we will probably never know. But the idea of Misfud being an agent for the West is gaining traction with Republicans. Why is it that when so many people were indicted for providing false statements, but not Mifsud? If Mifsud was indeed a Russian agent, and had numerous contacts within western governments, why is it that they don’t seem in the least concerned by the fact they could have been compromised by him? And as Lee Smith has pointed out, writing for RealClearInvestigations, Mifsud has closer ties to western governments and institutions than to Russia, including the CIA, FBI and British secret service. Indeed, during his time in London and Rome he was reportedly involved in training diplomats, police officers and intelligence operatives.

Perhaps the main thing we can take away from this chapter in the fiction that is Russiagate, is the fact that these questions are not being posed by journalists. Hardly anyone in the western mainstream media seems prepared to question the narrative presented by the Democratic lobby that Mifsud was a Russian spy, complicit in a Putin-sponsored attempt to influence the US election. As Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at  George Washington University has written: “The most credible point about Mifsud is that his relative anonymity in news coverage reflects a broader problem that there is a consistent effort to preserve a narrative that the Russians interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump.”

And yet without any Russian actors featuring in this tale, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Democrats to keep pushing this narrative of Russian involvement. Mifsud has been vital so far, and his disappearance only emphasises further how important a protagonist he is in the Russiagate hoax. If he were to go on record as saying he worked for the FBI not the Russians, it would bury the collusion theory forever. So let’s not expect him to surface any time soon…

Johanna Ross, journalist

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