The Justice Department has recently come into possession of two BlackBerry phones used by Joseph Mifsud, the mysterious Maltese professor who triggered the long FBI probe into President Trump and aides.
The disclosure is made in a new court filing by Sidney Powell, the attorney for retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn who accuses prosecutors of withholding evidence.
Ms. Powell makes the sensational allegation the two phones were used by Mr. Mifsud as part of a Western intelligence gambit to entrap Flynn into connections with certain Russians.
If true, it could turn the Justice Department probe on its head because it wrecks the entire reason for opening the investigation.
Attorney General William P. Barr has ordered an inquiry into how the FBI opened the probe. It is possible the Mifsud phones were recovered during that process.
Special counsel Robert Mueller and former FBI Director James Comey both said that Mr. Mifsud was a Russian asset who spoke with Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.
During an encounter in London, Mr. Mifsud told Papadopoulos that Moscow owned thousands of Hillary Clinton emails. Papadopoulos passed the information on to the Australian ambassador while having a drink in a wine bar. The information was conveyed to Washington, triggering the FBI to open a probe on July 31, 2016.
Papadopoulos argues that Mr. Mifsud worked for Western intelligence, not Russia, and planted the tidbit to entrap him. Mr. Mifsud has remained out of sight for months.
Ms. Powell’s motion in U.S. District Court states that “agents that western intelligence tasked against him [Flynn] likely as early as 2014 to arrange — unbeknownst to him — ‘connections’ with certain Russians that they would then use against him in their false claims. The phones were used by Mr. Joseph Mifsud.”
The timeline of acquiring the phones would mean Mr. Mueller’s team didn’t have them during the investigation.
Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about discussions he had with the Russian ambassador. The talks were not connected to Russian election interference. Flynn was not charged in any Russian conspiracy, nor were any other Trump associates.
Flynn has not yet been sentenced. He fired his lawyers last spring and brought on Ms. Powell, a Dallas appeals specialist.
She has been petitioning Judge Emmet G. Sullivan to force the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. to turn over what she considers “Brady” material. It is a reference to a Supreme Court case that requires the government to turn over all exculpatory evidence.
Early on, Judge Sullivan ordered prosecutors to adhere to Brady. If the judge finds that prosecutors did not, Ms. Powell wants the entire case thrown out.
Her Tuesday motion lists both BlackBerrys’ model numbers, PIN and SIM card identification. She wants the data from the phones turned over to the defense.
“This information is material, exculpatory, and relevant to the defense of Mr. Flynn, and specifically to the “OCONUS LURES,” Ms. Powell’s motion states.
“OCONUS LURES” is FBI lingo for enticing someone outside the U.S. to return so the person can be detained.
FBI Agent Peter Strzok used the acronym in December 2015 when texting his lover, FBI counsel Lisa Page. There is no indication he was talking about then-candidate Trump.
Mr. Mifsud traveled extensively in Europe as a classroom teacher and conference lecturer. Among his posts was the Link University in Rome. The campus teaches NATO intelligence officers and is staffed by former Western intelligence agents.
Mr. Barr visited Rome several weeks ago on a trip tied to his inquiry into how the FBI began the probe and whether it violated federal law.
Mr. Papadopoulos tweeted, “BOTH Mifsud and Halper were tasked with spying on Flynn and myself. This is a major breakthrough!”
“Halper” is Stefan Halper, a Washington and London-based professor who was an FBI informant assigned to spy on Mr. Papadopoulos and other Trump figures.