Email undermines Joseph Mifsud’s claims about his role in Trump-Russia affair
This is one in a series of articles about the Trump-Russia affair and the characters involved.
A newly-emerged email shows that Joseph Mifsud, the mysterious “professor” at the centre of the Trump-Russia affair, offered to help Trump’s election campaign by writing op-ed articles while posing as a “neutral” observer.
Maltese-born Mifsud was the middleman who provided George Papadopoulos, one of Trump’s foreign policy advisers, with Russian contacts and told him the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails”.
In an interview last October, shortly before he went into hiding, Mifsud insisted there was nothing out of the ordinary about his dealings with Papadopoulos. “The only thing I did was to facilitate contacts between official and unofficial sources,” he told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. It was just part of his “usual business”, he said: “I put think tanks in contact, groups of experts with other groups of experts.”
However, an email cited by the New York Times in an article yesterday undermines Mifsud’s claim that he was simply helping Papadopoulos with a few contacts.
In the email, Mifsud proposed to Papadopoulos that “he could write op-eds under the guise of a ‘neutral’ observer … and follow Mr Trump to his rallies as an accredited journalist while receiving briefings from the inside the campaign”.
In other words, Mifsud offered himself as a surrogate — to spread the Trump campaign’s message while pretending to be an independent commentator.
The email is one of several cited by the New York Times which it obtained from undisclosed sources. The paper does not quote a response from Papadopoulos to Mifsud’s offer, and no op-ed articles appeared as a result of it.
In any case it’s unlikely the Trump campaign would have been interested. Mifsud was unknown to American newspaper readers, had no previous journalistic experience and, if this example is anything to judge by, was a very mediocre writer.
Nevertheless, his offer to help in that way raises further questions about his motives.