New details in the Mueller report reveal that a Maltese professor who offered dirt to George Papadopoulos had contacts with a Russian troll farm, made false statements, and may have been in a ‘relationship’ with a woman he introduced to the Trump advisor.
Papadopoulos, 31, also lied – making it harder for investigators to untangle the bizarre chain of events.
When they met in London in March 2016, Maltese born professor Joseph Mifsud introduced Papadopoulos, a new Trump foreign policy advisor, to his associate Olga Polonskaya. He also introduced Papadopoulos to Ivan Timofeev of the Russian International Affairs Council.
Joseph Mifsud had a contact with a former employee of a Russian troll far, and may have been in an relationship with a woman he introduced to George Papadopoulos
Mifsud introduced Polonskaya as a former student who had ‘connections to Vladimir Putin,’ according to the special counsel – although Papadopoulos understood she may have been Putin’s niece.
Both Papadopoulos and Mifsud told things to investigators that weren’t true, but Mifsud also appears to have concealed things from Papadopoulos. Among them, that he ‘may have been in a relationship’ with Polonskaya.
He didn’t tell investigators that he had drafted or edited a follow-up message after he made the introduction. However his message to Polonskaya in the email chain – ‘Baby, thank you!’ – indicated ‘Mifsud may have been involved in a personal relationship with Polonskaya at the time.’
Former Donald Trump presidential campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos spent 12 days in prison after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI
Papadopoulos repeatedly contacted the Trump campaign about a potential Trump-Putin meeting that never happened
Simona Mangiante (C), wife of former Trump campaign foreign affairs advisor George Papadopoulos (R), arrives in the Hart Senate Office Building March 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. Mangiante is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed hearing
In this April 19, 2016, file photo, released by Valdai Club foundation, shows Ivan Timofeev, right, and Joseph Mifsud, attend the Valdai Discussion Club Conference following the results of the closed-door Iran-Russia discussion in Moscow, Russia
The Mueller report says omissions and falsehoods by Papadopoulos and Mifsud hampered the investigation
The false statements by Papadopoulos and Mifsud had an impact on the probe. ‘The false information and omissions in Papadopoulos’s January 2017 interview undermined investigators’ ability to challenge Mifsud when he made these inaccurate statements,’ investigators said.
Papadopoulos ended up serving 12 days in jail for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Mifsud. The contact is among numerous threads of the Mueller team sought to untangle of Russian efforts to approach Trump campaign officials.
‘During the interview, Papadopoulos lied about the timing, extent, and nature of his communications with Joseph Mifsud, Olga Polonskaya, and Ivan Timofeev,’ according to the report.
Although the White House would write off Papadopoulos as a low-level official, he followed up with the Trump camp after his meeting and repeatedly touted his Russia contacts thereafter.
The subject heading of his first email was: “Meeting with Russian leadership–including Putin.’
‘I just finished a very productive lunch with a good friend of mine, Joseph Mifsud, the director of the London Academy of Diplomacy – who introduced me to both Putin’s niece and the Russian Ambassador in London – who also acts as the Deputy Foreign Minister,’ Papadopoulos wrote.
‘They said the leadership, including Putin, is ready to meet with us and Mr. Trump should there be interest,’ he added.
However, as the report noted: ‘Papadopoulos’s statements to the Campaign were false. As noted above, the woman he met was not Putin’s niece, he had not met the Russian Ambassador in London, and the Ambassador did not also serve as Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister.’
His internet search history reveals he tried to run down the false information about Mifsud’s associate being Putin’s niece. He searched terms including ‘putin’s niece,’ ‘olga putin,’ and ‘russian president niece olga’, among other terms, according to the report.
The efforts to arrange a Trump-Putin meeting extended through the spring and summer. ‘Throughout that period of time and for several months thereafter, Papadopoulos worked with Mifsud and two Russian nationals to arrange a meeting between the Campaign and the Russian government. No meeting took place.
A section of the report that contains multiple redactions lays out ‘various Russian contacts’ – including a former employee of a Russian troll farm, the Internet Research Agency, that carried out election hacking.
‘Mifsud is a Maltese national who worked as a professor at the London Academy of Diplomacy in London, England,’ according to the report.
‘Among his contacts was [redacted] a one-time employee of the IRA, the entity that carried out the Russian social media campaign (see Volume I Section II, supra). In January and February 2016, Mifsud and [redacted] discussed [redacted] possibly meeting in Russia. The investigation did not identify evidence of them meeting. Later, in the spring of 2016, [redacted] was also in contact [redacted] that was linked to an employee of the Russian Ministry of Defense, and that account had overlapping contacts with a group of Russian military controlled Facebook accounts that included accounts used to promote the DCLeaks releases in the course of the GRU’s hack-and-release operations (see Volume I, Section III.B.1, supra).’
Papadopoulos blasted the report in an interview with Fox News on Thursday.
“There was no collusion and of course I wasn’t colluding because I have never met a Russian official in my entire life. Let alone on the campaign or the transition team,” Papadopoulos told the network.
“I was actually really impressed and quite frankly shocked that told the truth about why I was illicitly targeted and it really had nothing to do with Russia. It had to do with my ties to Israel,” he said.
“Now, this is why this is really important. Because if I was targeted for my ties to Israel, and I had all these various spies approaching me while I was just joining the campaign and they were discussing Israel with me … I think that’s very disturbing and probably is going to reveal quite frankly how this entire investigation started,’ he said.
Papadopoulos said of Mifsud: ‘Quite comically the guy at the epicenter of this fake collusion story Joseph Mifsud was outed yesterday by the Italians living next to the U.S. Embassy for the last year,” he said, without further explanation.
According to the report, which cites contrary evidence, 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.’