If you’re a believer in Clinton conspiracy theories, or theories about Trump/Russia collusion, your Spidey sense just got kicked into overdrive. And it’s all thanks to Joseph Mifsud.
According to CNN, Mifsud — the Russian-linked academic who a Trump campaign official allegedly said had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton — seems to have dropped off the face of the earth.
“Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese academic suspected of being a link between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, was once a regular on the foreign policy circuit, attending conferences the world over,” CNN reported.
“Now, after being identified as a key figure in the U.S. special counsel investigation into Russian influence over the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Mifsud has gone to ground.”
According to CNN, Mifsud disappeared last Thursday from Rome, where he teaches at a university. Attempts to reach him were futile, although messages sent to him by the network have apparently been received and read.
While Mifsud had claimed he had never talked about Russian “dirt” on Clinton, one of his colleagues said that he frequently boasted that Moscow had “compromising material” on the Democrat presidential candidate.
“At that time, according to U.S. officials and independent analysts, Russian agencies or proxies were rummaging around the stolen emails of both the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee,” CNN wrote
“The intrusion would not become public for several months.”
Mifsud was apparently interviewed earlier this year by the FBI. He was also identified as “Foreign Contact 1” in an affidavit filed by the government in which George Papadopoulos — the Trump campaign volunteer who pleaded guilty to lying to federal officials — said Mifsud claimed Russia had “thousands of emails” related to Clinton.
In an interview with Italy’s La Repubblica last week, Mifsud denied this, saying “I absolutely exclude the fact that I spoke of secrets regarding Hillary Clinton.”
Mifsud is yet another odd bird to present itself in the Clinton/Trump/Russia saga. CNN says that those who knew him say that the professor “was always networking and often exaggerated his access to decision-makers,” including passing himself off as an ambassador when he held no such post.
In the La Repubblica interview, Mifsud also admitted that the “Putin niece” he introduced Mr. Papadopoulos to — who has been mentioned by federal investigators — may be indeed somebody’s niece, but not Vladimir Putin’s.
“She is a simple student, very beautiful,” Mifsud said. “Like many other students, I introduced her at the London Center where Papadopoulos was, and he showed an interested in her that was not academic.”
We are to assume from Mifsud’s statement that he believes the interest in the woman — identified as Olga Vinogradova, and not related to the Russian president — was also not campaign-related.
So, what do we have here? Russia-Trump collusion believers will no doubt say that Mifsud’s disappearance is yet more evidence that Trump is a Kremlin puppet. Clinton conspiracy theory believers will similarly say Mifsud is certainly locked in a secret chamber where Donna Brazile will eventually be his roommate.
My personal guess, were I a betting man, is that we have two fabulists here, Mr. Papadopoulos and Mr. Mifsud. One has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and the other has decided that pulling a Salman Rushdie might be the best career move at the moment.
Either way, it’s a strange story that keeps getting stranger.