Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, and Joseph Mifsud lay plans for the next phase of Russian collusion.
The guilty plea of George Papadopolous, who was either Trump’s Svengali or a not terribly astute man on the make, depending upon your view of the situation, included the appearance of some characters that might have appeared in a one-act, off-Broadway play.
Papadopoulos confessed to interactions with:
A Certain Female Russian National (allegedly Putin’s niece but I’m guessing some form of hooker)
Campaign Supervisor (Sam Clovis)
Russian MFA Connection (Unknown)
But the central character is The Professor. Here is some stuff from the guilty plea:
Defendant PAPADOPOULOS claimed that his interactions with an overseas professor, who defendant PAPADOPOULOS understood to have substantial connections to Russian government officials, occurred before defendant PAPADOPOULOS became a foreign policy adviser to the Campaign. Defendant PAPADOPOULOS acknowledged that the professor had told him about the Russians possessing “dirt” on then-candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,”…
Defendant PAPADOPOULOS further told the investigating agents that the professor was “a nothing” and “just a guy talk[ing] up connections or something.” In truth and in fact, however, defendant PAPADOPOULOS understood that the professor had substantial connections to Russian government officials (and had met with some of those officials in Moscow immediately prior to telling defendant PAPADOPOULOS about the “thousands of emails”) and, over a period of months, defendant PAPADOPOULOS repeatedly sought to use the professor’s Russian connections in an effort to arrange a meeting between the Campaign and Russian government officials.
On or about Apri I 18, 2016, the Professor introduced defendant PAPADOPOULOS over email to an individual in Moscow (the ” Russian MFA Connection”) who told defendant PAPADOPOULOS he had connections to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (“MF A.. ). The MF A is the executive entity in Russia responsible for Russian foreign relations. Over the next several weeks, defendant PAPADOPOULOS and the Russian MFA Connection had multiple conversations over Skype and email about setting “the groundwork” for a “potential” meeting between the Campaign and Russian government officials.
It goes on and on in a similar vein. What is notable is that Papadopoulos’s entire career on the campaign seems to have been spent chatting with The Professor. Now the identity of The Professor has been revealed by the Washington Post:
He was, he insisted, just an academic who had “absolutely no contact” with the Russian government. Any suggestion that he had offered to play matchmaker between the future president of the United States and the power players of the Kremlin was, he maintained dismissively, “incredible.”
Or so he told reporters.
But in private exchanges, Joseph Mifsud was proud of his alleged high-level Moscow contacts, reporting that they had extended all the way to the top: He’d had, he told a former assistant late last year, a private meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The assistant didn’t think much of that claim. But the boastfulness matches the portrait of Mifsud sketched in court papers unsealed Monday that have made him one of the most critical — and enigmatic — figures in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
In those papers — a plea agreement for former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos — Mifsud is not named. But the Maltese national and London-based academic confirmed Tuesday that he is the “professor” mentioned in the probe.
According to the court files, the professor took an interest in Papadopoulos after the latter joined the Trump campaign. Mifsud promised him “dirt” on Hillary Clinton compiled by the Russians, including thousands of emails. He also offered to serve as a go-between in Papadopoulos’s efforts to connect the Trump campaign with the Kremlin, even going so far as introducing Papadopoulos to a woman he identified as Putin’s niece.
As you read the story, it becomes apparent that Mifsud was not a heavy hitter, his Russian contacts were minimal, but he was trying to raise his own profile as an academic with a focus on foreign policy.
Though, quite honestly, there is enough stuff in his resume that indicates he could very well have been either a willing or an unknowing Russian asset.
The consistency here, though, is that we are led back to another person, like Sergei Millian aka Source D and Source E, and like Carter Page and like George Papadopoulos who are themselves inconsequential but who are surfing along the edge of the Trump campaign trying to make a name for themselves. Which they did, only in not a way they had expected.