- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 27, 2019

A new question about the mysterious Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud is: What did he say on a taped deposition handed to the team of special Justice Department investigator John Durham?

Mr. Mifsud is a subject on Mr. Durham’s agenda. The Washington Times reported that Mr. Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, obtained two Mifsud BlackBerry cellphones. Stephan Roh, Mr. Mifsud’s attorney, told The Times he provided the deposition recording to Mr. Durham’s team in midsummer.

Mr. Mifsud’s April 2016 conversation with a Trump associate ignited the FBI’s long Trump-Russia probe. In May 2018, Mr. Mifsud sat in Mr. Roh’s law office in Zurich recounting his time as an academic traveling in Europe, from London to Rome to Paris to Moscow.

Mr. Roh contends that Mr. Mifsud, who has been in hiding for months, was not just a peripatetic professor but also a Western “intelligence operative” who fed what he knew to retired officials.

The Times could not confirm this. No independent evidence at this point shows Mr. Mifsud played that role. The Times reached out to one person named by Mr. Roh as a Mifsud intelligence contact, but that person didn’t respond.

Former FBI Director James B. Comey, with access to counterintelligence files, said flatly that Mr. Mifsud was a Russian “agent.”

Mr. Roh said the FBI detained and questioned him upon his arrival in the U.S. for vacation. He was never accused of wrongdoing. No Trump associate has been charged in any Russian election conspiracy.

The FBI questioned Mr. Mifsud in February 2017 while he was attending a State Department-linked conference on Capitol Hill. The event was one of a string of Mifsud sightings in close contact with Western officials in the U.S. and Europe over a number of years.

Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said categorically that Mr. Mifsud was not a Moscow agent. He takes this view because the only evidence offered by the U.S. is the professor’s relatively few contacts with Russians, and no Western governments seem concerned about Mr. Mifsud’s numerous associations with intelligence figures and diplomats in their countries.

In an email exchange with The Times, Mr. Roh talked of his client’s “missions and engagements.”

Asked whether this is in the recording and an accompanying transcript, Mr. Roh said, “In relation to the LCILP, yes. Outside recordings, he explained us more.”

LCILP is the now-defunct London Center of International Law Practice. It was the link that brought Mr. Mifsud together with George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser and energy consultant.

Mr. Roh later wrote, “The LCILP was not ‘real.’ It was rather a cover-up for intelligence agents.”

Mr. Mifsud was a director of the London center when Papadopoulos arrived. In March 2016, he traveled to Link Campus University in Rome. Link University is a for-profit school founded by former Italian government officials. It trains NATO intelligence personnel and has hosted FBI agents.

London center personnel urged Papadopoulos to visit Link, where he met Mr. Mifsud at a gathering. Mr. Mifsud promised to help him make Russian contacts who could facilitate Papadopoulos’ ambition to set up a Kremlin-campaign meeting.

Mr. Mifsud returned to London in April 2016 after participating in a Moscow think tank panel that included Mr. Roh. Over breakfast, Mr. Mifsud told Papadopoulos he had heard that Moscow owned “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails.

Russian military intelligence had indeed been hacking Democratic Party computers. FBI agent Peter Strzok heard about the conversation via an Australian diplomat and officially opened a counterintelligence probe on July 31, 2016.

‘The Faking of Russia-Gate’

Papadopoulos believes Mr. Mifsud was a Western plant dispatched to try to incriminate him. He said Mr. Mifsud promised to hook him up with Russian officials but never did, creating suspicion that he really didn’t know any.

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his association with Mr. Mifsud.

Papadopoulos’ suspicions proved correct about another London encounter. Looking back, he began to piece together a timeline that told him that Stefan Halper was more than a Washington establishment scholar who gave him $3,000 for an energy study. He also was an FBI plant sent to spy on him. So was Azar Turk, a flirtatious Halper associate who tried to coax him into talking about Russia and emails.

In May 2018, Mr. Mifsud spoke into a recorder in Zurich at the same time he signed over power of attorney to Mr. Roh. Mr. Roh said his client was living in Italy at the time.

Mr. Roh said he has had no direct or indirect communication with his client since special counsel Robert Mueller’s report was released in March. The report branded Mr. Mifsud as an associate of sinister Russians.

“The recording outlines in general terms his work which he called ‘track to diplomacy,’” Mr. Roh said. “Mifsud, non-recorded, but in front of our team, talked about some matters, missions and engagements.”

Asked whether the audio recording was given to Mr. Durham, Mr. Roh said, “We provided the audio tape of Mifsud’s declaration, and our own working transcript.”

Mr. Roh, an energy company executive and investor, maintains Russian business ties and is married to a Russian fashion designer.

He wrote a 2018 book about his and Mr. Mifsud’s saga, “The Faking of Russia-Gate: The Papadopoulos Case.” In the fall of 2017, arriving at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on a vacation with his wife and three children, the FBI and an “armed police force” awaited.

“There followed hours of interrogation and search by the FBI, a team of Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigating Russia-Gate,” Mr. Roh wrote. “Released, he and his family, during all their holiday stay in New York, were observed, followed and taped, at every moment and every place in New York, permitting a huge number of following FBI officers to enjoy the same tourist attractions as well. The family was assigned to special rooms at the hotel, and security personnel patrolled in the corridors.”

A question remains: Why did all this happen?

Mr. Roh profiled Mr. Mifsud: “The Professor, who was wrongly and offensively styled as a shady and dark personality, suspected to be even a Russian spy, is an elder statesman, former foreign policy officer, European activist, a diplomat, but also a long serving academic, who was teaching at many European universities, being a political analyst and commentator, invitee at European, US and global think tanks, with international contacts on highest level. The Professor, most importantly, is an employee and a missionary of Clintonian and U.S. Democrats’ institutions and a close co-operator and an ‘asset’ of Western intelligence services.”

Mr. Roh told The Times that his story prompted Mr. Mifsud, whom he has known for years after meeting at a security conference, to officially retain him.

“Mifsud was deeply thankful with us for writing the book,” he said. “Mifsud confirmed the content and appointed thereafter our law firm as his lawyers. We also understand that this book, which was distributed April 2018 to 400+ journalists and news outlets, helped to save Mifsud’s life.”

Key questions loom: If Mr. Mifsud was a Western intelligence plant sent to befriend Papadopoulos, why did the FBI interview him in Washington in 2017? Why did agents stop and question Mr. Roh? Why is Mr. Mifsud mentioned in the Mueller report 87 times?

Stefan Halper, a known FBI informant who encountered the same Trump adviser, is not mentioned once.

Maybe the FBI didn’t know Mr. Mifsud’s true role in Europe. A source told The Washington Times that there is no doubt Mr. Mifsud worked at times with a U.S. intelligence agency.

• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

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