With the looming declassification of documents pertaining to the genesis of the Russia hoax investigation, we’re beginning to see traces of anxiety in the intelligence community about what that declassification will reveal. One of the most interesting ones appeared today under the byline shared by the CIA’s go-to guy and James Comey crony at the Washington Post, Shane Harris. This article focuses on the role of Joseph Mifsud in the whole tawdry affair and its purpose seems to be to convince the credulously credulous who bought into the whole silly premise that George Papadopoulos was a go-between for the Trump campaign and Moscow that Mifsud could have been plausibly considered to be a Russian agent of influence if not an outright operative.
This is the background. Joseph Mifsud is a Maltese academic of no particular note. He seems to have served as an assistant to one of Malta’s foreign ministers. He appears in Britain in 2013 in a teaching position at the University of East Anglia (oddly enough it is also ground zero of the climate change fraud being perpetrated on the Western world. His real claim to fame is the role he played in the Mueller investigation:
The narrative as it stands is that George Papadopoulos, a mid-level foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign, made the acquaintance of Maltese Professor Joseph Mifsud in March 2016 while in Rome. Presenting himself a man with numerous contacts to the Russian government, Mifsud introduced Papadopoulos to a woman he claimed to be Vladimir Putin’s niece (she wasn’t) and a man he claimed was with the Russian Foreign Ministry. In late April, Mifsud informed Papadopoulos that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.” The Mueller Report claims that Russian military intelligence (GRU) hacked the Democratic National Committee’s emails in the two weeks prior to Mifsud sharing this information, while others speculate that Mifsud was referencing the over thirty thousand emails deleted on Clinton’s private server while she was Secretary of State. In early May, Papadopoulos, while drinking at a bar, shared this information with Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, who then passed it on to his own government, who then informed U.S. authorities about the illicit connection. The FBI officially opened their probe in late July, while Papadopoulos has since denied he ever discussed the topic with Downer.
Mifsud is a mysterious figure with numerous foreign connections. The Mueller Report mentions his relationships to multiple Russian figures, including a former employee of the Internet Research Agency, but the names and precise details are redacted. Mifsud is also ingrained in Western intelligence. Claire Smith, of the United Kingdom’s Joint Intelligence Committee, worked alongside Mifsud while training Italian security forces. In February 2017 Mifsud was a featured speaker for a meeting of Global Ties, a nonprofit partner of the U.S. State Department. The Maltese professor claimed he was interviewed by the FBI that February while in the United States, a claim the FBI has never verified. In fall 2017, Joseph Mifsud disappeared and his whereabouts have not been confirmed since. The Daily Caller reported in fall 2018 that Mifsud was indeed alive and living somewhere under a false identity.
What has really stuck in the craw of the fluffers for the Russia hoax (and I am not convinced that the loudest voices actually believe the story, just that they know it is important that the story not be decisively debunked) is the fact that Mifsud seems to have much closer connections to Western intelligence than to the Kremlin. In fact, the Mueller report goes out of its way to itemize every possible contact Mifsud had with any rando Russian but steers very clear of saying that Mifsud was under Russian influence or control while trying to imply it. And the only guy to have actually seen all the information, Devin Nunes, has hinted that Mifsud has close ties to State as well as to the CIA, MI6, and Italy’s intelligence apparatus and Nunes was stonewalled by the FBI in his requests to see what they knew about Mifsud.
This counter narrative plus the imperative of bureaucratic ass-covering to deal with the impending declassification seems to have sent the CIA to the Washington Post for cover. This is the thesis.
In Mifsud’s absence, a number of President Trump’s allies and advisers have been floating a provocative theory: that the Maltese professor was a Western intelligence plant.
Seizing on the vacuum of information about him, they have promoted the idea that he was working for the FBI, CIA or possibly British or Italian intelligence, citing exaggerated and at times distorted details about his life.
Officials familiar with U.S. intelligence reports told The Post that Mifsud had been identified by intelligence agencies as a potential Russian agent before he met Papadopoulos, an assessment drawn from reporting collected over several years.
If you want the sum total of the evidence in the Post article, it is found in these paragraphs:
Multiple former intelligence officials in the United States and the United Kingdom said that theory does not make sense.
John Sipher, a former CIA officer who once ran the agency’s Russia operations, called the idea that Mifsud was a CIA asset who set up Papadopoulos “nonsense,” noting that the CIA is not allowed to target Americans.
Steve Hall, who retired in 2015 after 30 years running and managing Russian operations for the CIA, said that in counterintelligence, “you can almost never rule anything out completely.”
But he added that Mifsud’s known activities closely parallel long-standing Russian techniques of targeting academic institutions to spot possible recruits and gather information, making it more likely that Mifsud was working with the Russians than a Western intelligence agency.
“Oftentimes, you can cut through a lot of BS by saying, what makes the most sense here?” he said.
In this case, multiple appears to equal two. Their reasoning is risible. The idea that the CIA wouldn’t loan an asset to the FBI (this appears to have been the case with Stefan Halper as we know McCabe flew to London to meet someone who seems a lot like Halper) is laughable on its face. And we also have the, as yet, unresolved case of who was running Azra Turk who Halper dangled in front of Papadopoulos. While the Russians do target academic institutions, so, too, do Western agencies. The role of professors as “talent spotters” for intelligence agencies, including the CIA, is well established. The 800-lb gorilla in the room that the WaPo elides right past is the fact that Mifsud’s primary academic affiliation is with Link Campus University in Rome. It’s president it a former Italian interior minister, and political and social conservative, and it is rumored, with as much back up proof as anything produced in this WaPo story, to be affiliated with a Western intelligence service. Note the non-denial denial here:
In an interview, Link President Vincenzo Scotti scoffed at the notion that the school is a front for the CIA or other intelligence services. “People say such stupid things,” said Scotti, an Italian politician who served as minister of interior affairs for two years in the early 1990s. “We have no relationships with the CIA.”
But the evidence on the other side of the argument, while also circumstantial, seems much stronger.
Given Mueller tried to suggest that Mifsud & Kilimnik were Russian agents, it’s hard to believe US intel identified Mifsud “as a potential Russian agent” but somehow Mueller didn’t tell us. So what’s going on? My guess: we’re about to learn that Mifsud is tied to Western intel.
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) July 1, 2019
Here is a picture of Mifsud standing by a member of the UK Joint Intelligence Committee. Read her bio.
“US intel agencies identified Mifsud as a Russian agent”? REALLY?
Was that when they were sitting in classes at LINK campus Rome —where Misfud taught alongside Claire Smith of the UK Joint Intelligence Committee & member of the UK Security Vetting panel?
CIA & FBI trained there pic.twitter.com/yEVch2DDQn
— Reasonable Doubt (@Reasons4Thought) July 1, 2019
One would note, going back to the comment by Steve Hall, that Smith and Mifsud were both on faculty at University of Stirling at the same time.
In case he may have forgotten, maybe Mueller could ask intel committee member Rep Jim Himes (Democrat) who Mifsud really is, since Himes and Mifsud shared a stage in February 2017 pic.twitter.com/S3hVKFkGji
— Bryn Nykrson (@nykr59) July 1, 2019
How, if Mifsud is a suspected Russian spy, does he show up at these invitation-only affairs. Why was Mifsud casually questioned by the FBI in the lobby of his hotel. How did they treat other foreign nationals Mueller wished to question? Take the case of Mifsud’s attorney and seeming business associate Stephan Roh:
Roh and his co-author Thierry Pastor, who also knows Mifsud, write in the book that, upon arriving in New York City with his family in October 2017, “one of the co-authors” was “fished from the passport control” line at John F. Kennedy airport while his family “was retained with armed police force.” (Photos posted by Roh’s wife on social media in October 2017 suggest she was visiting New York in late October.) He was then interrogated for “hours,” they write, by “a team of Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigating Russia-Gate.” The book alleges that he and his family were then “observed, followed, and taped, at every moment and every place in New York” by the FBI and that his family was assigned to “special rooms at the hotel” while security personnel “patrolled the corridors.”
How about another Mifsud-related figure targeted by Muller, Ivan Timofeev, the Director of Programs at the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC):
Over lunch earlier this year, the book says, Timofeev described being stopped by the FBI at JFK in “mid-2017” and questioned about his relationship with Papadopoulos, the DNC hacks, and about the “thousands of emails with dirt on Hillary Clinton.” His cellphone and laptop were seized, too.
And yet, Mifsud, who we are supposed to believe is a Russian agent of some stripe, gets a friendly sit down in an environment where he could literally leave at anytime or demand the right to an attorney.
The best interpretation of this article is that the CIA knows Mifsud’s exposure as an agent of a Western intelligence agency is going to happen. Then they are going to be left to explain how bogus information fed to Papadopoulos by a friendly intelligence agency was used to bolster the case for a special counsel to investigate a sitting president. There probably isn’t a real good explanation beyond what is here in the article, which is “well, we thought he looked fishy” and hoping that no one notices the very real coincidences that connect Mifsud and friendly intelligence agencies are noticed.