Saturday, July 27, 2019

Who Is Joseph Mifsud?

One of the more interesting nuggets in the testimony of Robert Mueller July 24 was the line of questioning pursued by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), one of the myriad of questions that Mueller refused to answer. It concerned former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, one of those who was caught up in Mueller's investigation. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents and spent a short period of time ( a couple of weeks) behind bars. It was his statement to an Australian diplomat, Alexander Downer, in a London bar in the spring of 2016 to the effect that "the Russians" had dirt on Hillary Clinton that led to the FBI's opening an investigation into possible Trump contacts with  Russians.

Yet, it seems that before the above conversation took place, Papadopoulos had been told about the Russians having dirt on Clinton by a character named Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor and a man with connections to various intelligence services, including, it seems, the FBI. It seems that once it was announced that Papadopoulos was joining the Trump campaign, he was contacted by various and sundry individuals, at least some of whom were working on behalf of the FBI. Mifsud also introduced Papadopoulos to a young Russian woman named Olga Polonskaya, who was supposedly a niece of Vladimir Putin. Mifsud himself had conversations with the FBI, in which, on several occasions, he apparently lied. Yet, while Papadopoulos and others were charged for lying to the FBI, Mifsud never was. Rep. Jordan asked Mueller why, and Mueller, of course, refused to answer. Jordan also referred to another FBI-connected figure, Stefan Halper, a Cambridge University professor, who contacted Papadopoulos in London in September 2016 and brought along a young Turkish woman identified as Azra Turk, whom Papadopoulos suspected was brought along as a 'honeypot". Both Halper and Turk were identified by the New York Times as FBI informants.

Jordan stated in his questioning of Mueller that the FBI had apparently sent in a team of human resources to contact Papadopoulos once it was learned  he was joining the Trump campaign advising the candidate on foreign policy. This, of course, was in addition to the electronic surveillance of Carter Page, based on the infamous Steele Dossier, financed by the DNC and Clinton campaign through Fusion GPS (which Mueller apparently was not familiar with).

In the absense of any clarification by Mueller and/or the FBI, the inference is that it was FBI operatives who planted the whole idea about "Russian dirt" into the head of Papadopoulos and then, when he repeated it to Downer, used it to open an investigation into the Trump campaign itself. Put that together with the whole business of the Steele Dossier, and it adds up to something very troubling. If Papadopoulos lied to FBI agents, shame on him, but it doesn't excuse the FBI for what appear to be unethical and politically motivated methods. It cries out for a full explanation. Unfortunately, Mr Mueller found it to be "outside his purview" in his investigation into Russian meddling in our election.

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