Joseph Mifsud is the Maltese professor who may have acted as an intermediary between the Russian government and members of the Trump presidential campaign. He’s been a elusive figure, at best, ever since his name was first mentioned in connection with George Papadopoulos. In 2017, Papadopoulos told the FBI that he had met Mifsud while both men were visiting Italy; Papadopoulos said that Mifsud bragged about his Russian connections and said that he had “dirt” on the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Papadopoulos initially told the FBI that he had met Mifsud before he started work as a foreign policy adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign, but the FBI maintained that by the time the two men met, Mifsud already knew about his job in the campagin and that it was improper for him to accept information from Mifsud. You can read the statement of the prosecution in the Papadopoulos case here.
Now, in the latest twist in a bizarre case that keeps getting stranger, DNC lawyers say that Mifsud may be dead.
Here’s what you need to know about Joseph Mifsud:
1. DNC Lawyers Said Friday That They Couldn’t Serve Mifsud With a Subpoena — Because He May Be Deceased
The Democratic National Committee is suing Russia, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks for allegedly interfering in the 2016 US presidential election. As part of the lawsuit, DNC lawyers have served the complaint to everyone in the case except Joseph Mifsud — because, they say, they couldn’t locate him.
In a court filing on Friday, lawyers said they have no idea where Mifsud is, and they speculated that he may be dead. The filing said they had served complaints to every defendent “with the exception of Mifsud (who is missing and may be deceased).” In a footnote, lawyers added, “Plaintiff continues to monitor news sources for any indicia of Mifsud’s whereabouts and will attempt service on Mifsud if and when he is found alive.”
2. Mifsud Bounced From One European University Job to Another, Earning a Reputation as Someone Who Was Close to Putin
Mifsud is a national of Malta. He earned his PhD at the University of Belfast, in Ireland, in 1995, writing a thesis titled about educational reform. (The thesis was titled “Managing educational reform : a comparative approach from Malta (and Northern Ireland) : a head teacher’s perspective” and you can learn more about it here. The University of Malta still lists Mifsud as a “visiting professor” but doesn’t give any contact information for him, or any list of classes.
Mifsud also worked for a university in Slovenia, but the BBC reports that he left that job after being accused of financial misdeeds. From there, he wound up at the London Academy of Diplomacy, a small private university founded by Nabil Ayad.
Mifsud later did a stint working as a professorial assistant for Stirling University, a small university in Scotland. There, university officials described Mifsud as someone who “regularly ‘flies the University of Stirling flag’ at high-profile international events”. In emails obtained by STV News, officials said Mifsud had attended a “Valdai board meeting” with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin and the leaders of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan in November 2015.
3. Mifsud May Have a Baby and an Ex in Ukraine
Buzzfeed has reported that Mifsud had a Ukrainian fiancee named Anna (she did not want to give her last name). But Anna told Buzzfeed that, after a romantic proposal in Moscow, Mifsud left her high and dry. She says he hasn’t come to see her and hasn’t met their baby daughter, who was born in early 2018.
Anna told Buzzfeed that she first met Mifsud while both were visiting Moscow. She said he approached her at the Bolshoi Theater and asked to take her picture. Over the next few years, the two got to know each other, and Mifsud came to visit her a number of times in Kiev. Finally, in 2015 he proposed to her at a romantic dinner in a restaurant overlooking the Kremlin while they were visiting Moscow together.
She also said he bragged to her about his friendship with Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister. And he apparently told her that he was in Saudi Arabia at the same time as President Donald Trump’s visit to that country.
But she told Buzzfeed that she hasn’t seen him since April of 2017. And, she said, Mifsud hasn’t met their daughter, who was born at the start of 2018.
4. Mifsud Hired Both Papadopoulos and His Wife to Work for Him
Mifsud eventually wound up living in London, where he worked for a shadowy organization called the London Centre of International Law Practices. The organization currently lists just two officers in its membership: Peter Dovey, the director, a lawyer who owns more than 75 percent of the organization’s shares, and Nagi Khalid, the group’s legal consultant.
It’s hard to get to the bottom of what this group actually does. But what’s clear is that Mifsud, George Papadopoulos, and Simona Mangiante, the Italian national who later married Papadopoulos, were employed by the group at various times in 2016. Both Papadopoulos and Mifsud worked for the center in 2016; Papadopoulos later left and then Mifsud hired Simona Mangiante.
Papadopoulos and Mangiante met online while she was working for Mifsud; Papadopoulos contacted Mangiante after he saw her LinkedIn profile and told her that he had also once worked with Mifsud. She says that they did not meet in person until a few months later, when she had already left that group.
5. In 2014, Mifsud Visited DC, Where He Talked Up His Connections to Russia & Offered to Help Students Interested in Diplomacy Get Scholarships
In 2014, Joseph Mifsud was introduced as a “distinguished speaker” as part of a series organized by the law school of American University in Washington, DC. You can watch his speech here. (There is a long intro by members of the university staff before Mifsud begins speaking.)
Mifsud spoke to the students about his interest in international diplomacy and boasted that he had recently been part of a meeting in London with 45 diplomats to discuss Brexit, which was about the happen at that time. He also asked students whether they had heard of the “Valdai Group,” a Kremlin discussion forum.
Finally, Mifsud asked the students whether any of them were interested in a career in diplomacy. For those interested, he said, “we have some funds for scholarships as well, so people who are interested… you can send me an email, I’d be very, very happy to do that…”