The FBI worked hard to prove that a former campaign adviser to President Donald Trump lied to them about his exchanges with a supposed Russian contact. But the FBI showed little interest in busting the Russian contact itself.
The FBI twice questioned the adviser, George Papadopoulos, and obtained search warrants and subpoenas to get his emails, text messages, internet search history, and other information, which led to his arrest on July 27, 2017.
FBI agents intercepted him right after he deplaned a flight from Munich, before he approached customs at the Dulles Airport outside Washington, Politico reported. He was then further questioned on at least four occasions.
His crime was that he tried to downplay his contacts with Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud—the supposed Russian contact whose machinations were used by the FBI as a reason to start investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
In a January 2017 FBI interview, Papadopoulos said that “the Russians had emails of [former State Secretary Hillary] Clinton” and claimed that he had learned so in February 2016 from Mifsud before he joined the Trump campaign. In fact, Mifsud had told him about the emails in April 2016, about a month after he joined the campaign, according to the Aug. 17 government’s sentencing memo. This was Papadopoulos’s first lie.
Papadopoulos also called Mifsud “a nothing” who was “just a guy … talk[ing] up connections or something.” The prosecutors called this a lie as well, since Papadopoulos “understood the professor to have substantial connections to high-level Russian government officials.”
Similarly, Papadopoulos downplayed his contacts with two Russians that Mifsud introduced him to: a woman “he believed … had connections to high-level Russian government officials” (she didn’t) and a man “connected to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
The special counsel prosecutors demanded up to six months in prison and a fine of $9,500 for Papadopoulos.
But while Papadopoulos has faced the full power of FBI top counterintelligence agents and no less than three prosecutors from the team of special counsel Robert Mueller, Mifsud still walks free and the FBI has shown little effort to capture him.
Mifsud at Large
The FBI actually interviewed Mifsud in February 2017. The prosecutors blamed Papadopoulos’ lies for their inability “to effectively question” Mifsud and “potentially detain or arrest him.”
But Papadopoulos’s lawyers disagreed.
According to the official FBI narrative, the agents learned about Mifsud’s talk about Clinton emails in late July 2016, after Wikileaks started to release emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The agents, apparently conflating Clinton’s emails with those of the DNC, were so concerned about Mifsud’s supposed foreknowledge of the release that they launched a full-on counterintelligence probe.
“It was still apparent, despite George’s lie, that Professor Mifsud communicated this information to George prior to the stolen emails being made public,” Papadopoulos’s defense lawyers argued.
The FBI never asked Papadopoulos to try to confront Mifsud, even though he said he was willing to do so.
Moreover, it appears the FBI never tried to reinterview Mifsud, even though he was attending public events and was interviewed by Italian media as late as October 2017.
In that media interview, Mifsud emphatically denied Papadopoulos’s testimony regarding Clinton.
“I strongly deny any discussion of mine about secrets concerning Hillary Clinton,” he said. “I swear it on my daughter.”
If this is to be Mifsud’s official testimony, it would appear that he is guilty of lying too, since his account differs from parts of Papadopoulos’s testimony that the FBI has not disputed.
The key appears to be that Mifsud didn’t have particularly high-profile contacts in Russia, as The Epoch Times previously reported, and apparently misled Papadopoulos into believing he did. Instead, he had deep ties to a spy school in Rome frequented by national security and intelligence officials of Western nations, including the United States, the UK, and Italy. He was close with prominent European officials.
Mifsud was instrumental in trying to establish a link between the Trump campaign and Russia, but his indictment would do little damage to Trump.