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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Day After Mueller Monday

In Defying the Oddswe discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign.


  • “The Campaign Supervisor”: Trump campaign national co-chairman Sam Clovis
  • “High-Ranking Campaign Official”: Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski
  • “Another high-ranking campaign official”: Campaign chairman Paul Manafort
  • “Another campaign official”: Manafort deputy Rick Gates
  • “Senior Policy Advisor”: Unknown
  • “The Professor”: Joseph Mifsud, director of the London Academy of Diplomacy
  • “The Female Russian National”: Unknown
  • “A Russian National Connected to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs”: Ivan Timofeev
Scott Shane at NYT explains the significance of the Papadopoulos plea:
The guilty plea of a 30-year-old campaign aide — so green that he listed Model United Nations in his qualifications — shifted the narrative on Monday of the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russia: Court documents revealed that Russian officials alerted the campaign, through an intermediary in April 2016, that they possessed thousands of Democratic emails and other “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
That was two months before the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee was publicly revealed and the stolen emails began to appear online. The new court filings provided the first clear evidence that Trump campaign aides had early knowledge that Russia had stolen confidential documents on Mrs. Clinton and the committee, a tempting trove in a close presidential contest.
By the time of a crucial meeting in June of last year, when Donald Trump Jr. and other senior Trump campaign officials met with a Russian lawyer offering damaging information on Mrs. Clinton, some may have known for weeks that Russia had material likely obtained by illegal hacking, the new documents suggested. The disclosures added to the evidence pointing to attempts at collaboration between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, but they appeared to fall short of proof that they conspired in the hacking or other illegal acts.
John Schindler at The Observer:
The importance of the Papadopoulos case to the Mueller investigation in terms of national security is obvious and troubling. Already “the Professor” has been identified as Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese academic resident in Great Britain. Mifsud brushed off the FBI’s accusations of his role in this affair, stating he has “a clear conscience.” So far, the Russian female and the senior MFA official have not been firmly identified, yet in truth it hardly matters since, to any seasoned counterspy, their roles in this hush-hush saga are perfectly clear, no matter who they really are.
This was a textbook Russian espionage operation, presumably run by Moscow’s Foreign Intelligence Service, the SVR. Here, Mifsud served as a cut-out, offering plausible deniability as the Kremlin assessed if Papadopoulos was worth the SVR’s time—which obviously he was. Here “the Russian MFA” is merely a pleasant fiction covering the tracks of the SVR. It’s safe to assume that the Russian female and the “diplomat” were SVR representatives too, since spies—not legitimate diplomats—handle this sort of sensitive matter for Moscow.
Even though very little concrete results came of Papadopoulos’s effort at currying the Kremlin’s favor—indeed this operation appears rather amateurish overall, given that Moscow knows that Western intelligence can intercept emails—it’s certain that the SVR was pleased to have direct access to the Trump campaign.