The Role of Human Intelligence in Spygate, Part 2: Halper and Mifsud

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

For a brief outline of human intelligence and background, see part 1 here.

For all the talk of alleged links between Trump campaign officials and Russia, it was Stefan Halper who gave an interview to Sputnik TV, a Russian outlet, to discuss the upcoming American election.  In that telecast, Halper gave a strong endorsement for Hillary Clinton and heavily criticized Donald Trump.  Then in December 2016, after Trump had won the election, both Halper and Richard Dearlove resigned from the CIS citing “Russian infiltration” of the organization.

While the FBI describes Halper as an informant, he was actually more than an informant passing on information.  Instead, he actively courted three Trump campaign people, dropping himself into their lives, offering and actually paying for their travel expenses, and misrepresenting himself as eager to work for the Trump campaign.  Over drinks while in London, Halper directly asked Papadopolous whether the Trump campaign had any dirt on Hillary Clinton and whether anyone in the campaign knew about the DNC hack or the Wikileaks document dump.  

Papadopolous told Halper that no one ever proved Russia was behind the DNC hack and suggested it could be the work of the Chinese or Israelis.  Halper pushed the issue and said that any help from Russia or Wikileaks could be beneficial to the campaign.  Papadopolous told Halper it would be illegal and that no one in the campaign was working with Russia or Wikileaks.  Unsatisfied, Halper talked about Trump’s comment about Russia finding the 30,000 missing Clinton emails which Papadopolous passed off as a joke comment and that Trump was not encouraging Russian espionage.

If Stefan Halper is well-known in DC Beltway circles, then Joseph Mifsud- the linchpin in the whole Trump-Russia collusion narrative- is the mystery man.  He is often considered a “shadowy” figure in the press, but a lot is actually known about him.  Mifsud hails from the small island nation of Malta.  We know he taught at Stirling University in Great Britain, and the London Academy of Diplomacy and the London Center for International Law and Practice (LCILP) which was where George Papadopolous was working.

Mifsud traveled a lot as an academic and made friends with many dignitaries, the most important being Vincenzo Scotti, the minister of the interior and foreign affairs in Italy.  It was Scotti and Mifsud who founded the Link Campus in Rome in 1999.  He was also head of the Education department at the Malta University, but was let go after the Link Campus started issuing degrees with the Maltese university’s logo.

During his many travels, Mifsud became “friends” with two people of interest in particular.  The first was Gianna Pittella and the second was Prince Turki of the Saudi royal family.  Coincidentally, or not, both Turki and Pittella were huge supporters of Hillary Clinton.  According to his lawyer and business partner, Swiss-German Stephan Roh, Mifsud was a huge Clinton fan, or as he described him, a “Clintonist.”  It is also known that Mifsud had come into contact with Alexander Downer, the Australian diplomat, while in London.

Pittella later made a splash at the 2016 DNC convention in Philadelphia with a ringing endorsement of Hillary Clinton and lambasting Donald Trump.  Roh considers, given Mifsud’s circle of friends, him to be more likely an asset or informant for Western intelligence services, not the Russians as has been portrayed.    

The Link Campus offers a variety of degree programs, but most notably degrees in strategic studies and something called “diplomatic science.”  Many students who attend later end up as government officials in the police forces in countries throughout Europe, and a large contingent from Brazil.  The Link Campus’ director is Vincenzo Scotti, the former Italian interior minister.

In late 2015, Papadopolous started to dabble in the upcoming US election, first with the Carson campaign.  When he left that campaign, he received an offer from the LCILP and accepted the job since it would boost his resume.  It is not known how he landed the job, but Mifsud was on the advisory board of the LCILP at the time.  Papadopolous was not in the job that long as he had plans to try to join the Trump campaign.  He notified his boss at the LCILP- Arvinder Sambei- who, besides working for the LCILP was also the legal counsel for the FBI office in London.  

Sambei, however, suggested that he attend the Link Campus before he left London for the United States and, treating it as a paid-for vacation, Papadopolous accepted the offer.  It was there that he was introduced to Mifsud.  He described the Link Campus as no ordinary college, but one that apparently trained intelligence agents from around the world.   He also met Scotti and Papadopolous later recounted he started to get suspicious.  It was at this encounter that Mifsud allegedly told Papadopolous that the Russians had compromising information on Hillary Clinton.  No missing emails were discussed as had been reported.  This account of events from Papadopolous coincides with the account of Downer who said no missing emails were discussed, just compromising information on Hillary Clinton.  Mifsud has denied he ever made any such comments.

Upon his return to London before heading back to the US, Mifsud again met with him, this time bringing along Olga Polonskaya who he introduced as Putin’s niece.  She was, in fact, as Russian reporter Alexander Kalinin discovered, an employee with a liquor wholesaler in St. Petersburg, Russia.  He later introduced him to Victor Timofeev who allegedly discussed setting up a channel of communications between the Trump campaign and Russia to facilitate a meeting between Putin and Trump.  We know from the emails of Papadopolous to the campaign that he repeatedly pressed the issue but that Sam Clovis had shot the idea down.

Next: Mifsud- Russian agent or Western spy?