Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud – a former private secretary of PN foreign minister Michael Frendo – has been named by the Washington Post as the link between the campaign team of US president Donald Trump and the Russian government.
The case revolves around Trump’s campaign advisor George Papadopolous, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the timing of his contact with Joseph Mifsud – a Maltese professor who had told him Russia had “dirt” on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, including thousands of her emails.
Papadopolous had originally told the FBI he had met Mifsud before joining the Trump campaign but, according to court papers, he has now admitted to having met the Maltese professor in Italy in March 2016, days after he had joined the campaign team.
Joseph Mifsud (centre) with then Opposition leader Joseph Muscat in 2013
Papadopolous’ conversation with Mifsud took place a few weeks before the Democratic National Committee revealed it had been hacked and believed Russia was around it. The Washington Post said one email quoted in court filings regarding Mifsud matches an exchange previously described to the paper in which Papadopoulos identified the professor as Joseph Mifsud, the director of the London Academy of Diplomacy.
Mifsud told The Post in an email in August that he had “absolutely no contact with the Russian government” and said his only ties to Russia were through academic links.
Mifsud used to work as the private secretary of former PN foreign minister Michael Frendo and as the director of the University of Malta’s international officer, before becoming the president of the Slovenia-based private university EMUNI. He hit the local news in March 2013, after an audit revealed he had owed €39,000 to EMUNI for expenses he was ineligible for – including over €10,000 in mobile phone charges in one year.
Two weeks before the 2013 election, Mifsud reappeared in Malta as a consultant for INTO-University Partnerships and held a meeting with then-Opposition leader Joseph Muscat. During the meeting, Mifsud said the company intends to set up shop in Malta with the intention of attracting some 3,000 foreign students to study here.
This detail was not lost on PN MEP Roberta Metsola, who tweeted that Mifsud had heralded a partnership with Joseph Muscat days before the 2013 election.
— Roberta Metsola MEP (@RobertaMetsola) 31 October 2017
Muscat’s communications chief Kurt Farrugia accused Metsola of playing a “tribal politics zero sum game”.
“You are beyond pathetic. He was head of secretariat of a PN Minister not so long ago. Should we even go down that route? You represent Malta, not PN. Seriously, pathetic,” he said.