According to CNN, Joseph Mifsud, the academic who claimed to have “dirt” from thousands of Russian-hacked emails on Hillary Clinton has “vanished,” leaving behind a “trail of questions.”
Milfsud described himself as an international diplomat with strong connections to Russia. A Maltese national, Milfsud told former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos that he knew about damaging information the Russians had on on Clinton, according to documents revealed by the Mueller investigation this week.
Milfsud was never shy about public appearances, attending conferences the world over and regularly boasting about his relationship with the Kremlin. He claimed the Russians have “compromising material” about Clinton.
But now, CNN reports that Milsfud “has gone to ground.”
According to the report, Milsfud has “disappeared” from the university in Rome where he teaches.
Now, after being identified as a key figure in the US special counsel investigation into Russian influence over the 2016 US presidential election, Mifsud has gone to ground.
Last Thursday he disappeared from the private university in Rome where he teaches. Repeated attempts to reach him since have been unsuccessful, though he appears to have read some messages from CNN.
But more details are emerging of the background and contacts of the man who emerged last week as “the professor” in court filings relating to charges brought against former Trump aide George Papadopoulos.
In the US affidavit, Papadopoulos claims Mifsued — referred to as “Foreign Contact 1” — told him in April 2016 that the Russians had “thousands of emails” relating to Hillary Clinton.
Mifsud has been portrayed as a braggart and exaggerator. Despite his repeated self description, he’s never held a diplomatic title.
Yet his claim that Russians have a plethora of hacked emails pertaining to the Clinton campaign does coincide with with the federal investigators’ assertions.
An associate also told CNN that he repeatedly bragged about how Moscow had “compromising material” on the Clinton campaign in spring 2016, contradicting Mifsud’s assertion that he never talked about Russian “dirt” on the Democratic presidential bid.
At that time, according to US officials and independent analysts, Russian agencies or proxies were rummaging around the stolen emails of both the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The intrusion would not become public for several months.
The associate, who spoke to CNN at length, also said that Mifsud told him that he had been interviewed by the FBI while on a visit to the US earlier this year. That chimes with Mifsud’s own account — in an interview last week with Italian newspaper La Repubblica, he refers to a discussion with the FBI.
Mifsud’s claimed connections to Russia might very well have been exaggerated, but he certainly did have considerable connection with Russian officials even before meeting Papadopoulos.
Even before encountering Papadopoulos, Mifsud had been a regular visitor to Russia. He attended events sponsored by the Valdai Club between 2014 and 2016 and and other educational conferences in the past four years.
Mifsud also met the Russian ambassador to London Alexander Yakovenko in 2014 after returning from an academic conference in Moscow.
For an academic with modest credentials and few publications to his name, he had surprisingly high-profile connections among Russian officials.
Mifsud has not yet responded to any of CNN’s repeated attempts to contact him.
Has he really “gone to ground” as CNN claims, or will he turn up again soon?
Let us know what you think, and sound off in the comments section below.