The Maltese professor who allegedly served as a link between Donald Trump’s election campaign team and the Russian government has abandoned plans to set up a university in Malta.
Joseph Mifsud, a former private secretary of PN foreign minister Michael Frendo, briefly emerged on the local scene in February 2013, two weeks before the general election, during a meeting with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (then Opposition leader) and education minister Evarist Bartolo (then shadow education minister).
Presenting himself as a consultant for INTO University Partnerships, a British company which deals in joint ventures with universities, Mifsud said INTO plans to develop a university campus in Malta and a medical school in Gozo.
“We decided to approach the Labour Party and together draft a joint strategic plan on how to develop this idea,” Mifsud said.
Quizzed by Net News, Joseph Muscat said Labour has no relationship with Joseph Mifsud and had simply been contacted by INTO Partnerships after publishing its 2013 electoral manifesto as it had been contacted by several other people and companies.
“While many people who contacted us preferred not to show their faces at this point in time, Mifsud told us he has no problem with going public,” Muscat said. “INTO Partnerships is a serious consortium with roots in the US and China.”
However, a spokesperson for education minister Evarist Bartolo confirmed with Lovin Malta that the plan has now been shelved, INTO Partnerships didn’t follow up on its pre-electoral proposals.
“There is no involvement of Prof. Joseph Mifsud in any government work or project,” he added.
Mifsud’s name was thrust into the international news yesterday after Donald Trump’s campaign advisor George Papadopolous pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the timing of his contact with the 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.
Prof. Joseph Mifsud reportedly claimed to have met Vladimir Putin
The Washington Post reported today that Mifsud was very well-connected to the Kremlin, and had indeed told a former assistant last year he had held a private meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
According to court files, Mifsud offered to serve as a link between the Trump campaign with the Kremlin, even going so far as introducing Papadopoulos to a woman he identified as Putin’s niece.
Contacted by The Daily Telegraph, Mifsud insisted the claims in the court documents are exaggerated.
“I have a clear conscience,” he said, dismissing the allegation he had introduced Papadopoulos to Putin’s niece as a “laughing stock”.