Evolution of the Russian-Collusion Narrative


by Richard Levine, Disobedient Media:

“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” Alternatively attributed to John Maynard Keynes, Paul Samuelson, or Sir Winston Churchill, this statement and question speaks to the mutability of knowledge. It is a mistake to view the Russian-collusion case as the product of a set, initial design. Extremely complex organisms arise from adaptive selections due to environmental factors. These selections yield some attributes that appear to be well designed, but others that are kludged. Similarly, there was no single, initial design that created the Russian-collusion narrative. Rather, the narrative developed from a series of decisions by many actors, in different countries, in pursuit of various goals. These goals, however, all hinged on one event: the election of Hillary Clinton. Understood as a product of such a chaotic process, the schema of what has unfolded makes sense. This article is both a condensation and an expansion of matters discussed in my July 2, 2018 assessment of this subject, published by Disobedient Media.

Mifsud’s connections: Joseph Mifsud is the Maltese professor whose meeting with Trump campaign staffer George Papadopoulos was purportedly foundational to the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation, which led to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s examination of President Trump and his associates. Mifsud has been presented as a Russian spy; in fact, his connections to British and Italian intelligence and political operatives are very strong.

Claire Smith ─ Mifsud is associated with Claire Smith of the United Kingdom.  They were both affiliated with Link Campus University in Rome, a school that confers degrees in strategic and diplomatic studies, and is known to be attended by professionals who are members of Italy’s intelligence and security services.  Claire Smith was also associated with the now defunct London Academy of Diplomacy, which was co-directed by Mifsud.  Smith, along with Mifsud, also taught at the University of Sterling.

For eight years, Smith was a member of Britain’s Security Vetting Appeals Panel, which examines cases for governmental employees in which security clearances were denied.  She was a member of the United Kingdom’s Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), a panel with oversight over Britain’s intelligence services, including Defence Intelligence, the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), and GCHQ (signals intelligence).  The CIA’s Chief of Station in the U.K. has, in the past, been a regular participant in the JIC’s weekly assemblies.

It is difficult to conceive of a person who would have attained more experience in the vetting of individuals to be entrusted with state secrets than Claire Smith.  Yet, if the narrative of Mifsud’s being a Russian asset is to be believed, Smith was duped by this alleged spy for many a year.

Vincenzo Scotti ─ Mifsud’s ties to those involved with Italy’s intelligence services are conspicuous.  Scotti, the President of Link Campus University, where Mifsud taught, was formerly Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.  From 1990 through 1992, Scotti was Italy’s Minister of Interior, a position whose responsibilities included the administration of the SISDE (Intelligence and Democratic Security Service), which, in 2007, became the AISI (Internal Information and Security Agency), one of Italy’s preeminent intelligence services.  Scotti was involved deeply with Italy’s intelligence apparatus: Italy’s Court of Accounts ordered Scotti to pay €2,995,450 for an operation in which an Italian governmental account was used to purchase a building for an inflated price to create an off-book funding source for the SISDE.

Franco Frattini ─ A reported friend and fellow professor of Mifsud’s at Link Campus University was twice Italy’s foreign minister; Frattini, from 1996 to 2001, was chair of Italy’s parliamentary committee charged with oversight of the nation’s intelligence services (COPACO, now named Parliamentary Committee for the Intelligence and Security Services and for State Secret Control).  Such oversight specifically included SISDE and SISMI (Military Intelligence and Security Service).

Gianni Pittella ─ An elected member of the Italian senate, Pittella was the subject of a July 29, 2016 Time article whose first paragraph reads, “Gianni Pittella, a longtime Italian member of the European Parliament, hit the campaign trail this week.  Sitting at the back of the Gran Caffe L’Aquila, he warned a group of local businesspeople and supporters of the evils of fascism.  Except Pittella wasn’t touring Italy.  He was sitting in Philadelphia, trying to convince American voters to oppose an American candidate: Donald Trump.”  Gianni Pittella stated to the Italian press that Joseph Mifsud was his “dear friend.”  Simona Mangiante, George Papadopoulos’s wife (they married in March 2018), has stated that it was Pittella who introduced her to Joseph Mifsud in 2012; Mangiante went on to work for the professor.  In a January 2018 interview with The Guardian, Mangiante stated that she “always saw Mifsud with Pittella.”

Gianni Pittella © European Union 2015 – Source: EP

Of note is that Natalia Kutepova-Jamrom, who reportedly connected Professor Mifsud with Russian international-relations, academic, and media representatives, while she interned for Mifsud’s London Academy of Diplomacy in 2014, was also was connected to Gianni Pittella. Kutepova-Jamrom’s Russian LinkedIn page notes that she cooperated with one of her “university lectors, Mr. Gianni Pittella . . . .”

On November 10, 2017, The New York Times erroneously reported that the Kutepova-Jamrom appeared, at age twenty-four, in Mifsud’s office “with an improbably impressive résumé. Fluent in Russian, English, German and Chinese . . . .” However, Kutepova-Jamrom’s Russian LinkedIn page notes that she is only fluent in her native language, but possesses a “professional working proficiency” in German and in English, and an “elementary proficiency” in Chinese. Such skills in multiple languages are not unusual for a European with an advanced degree, but commonplace. Kutepova-Jamrom began interning for Mifsud after obtaining a degree from the London Academy of Diplomacy, which Mifsud directed. The New York Times presented Kutepova-Jamrom as a highly trained Russian operative; in fact, Kutepova-Jamrom’s LinkedIn page is riddled with spelling errors.

Link Campus University, Italy: Mifsud, Scotti, and Frattini were all employed by this Italian university.  David Ignatius wrote in the Washington Post that, in 2004, the CIA organized a terrorism conference at Link Campus University.  The event was entitled, “New Frontiers of Intelligence Analysis.”  According to Ignatius, the conclave was the product of years of planning by the CIA Global Futures Partnership’s founding director, Carol Dumaine.  Link Campus University may be considered to be a European waypoint for the AISI, the FBI, the CIA, and, most probably, the British intelligence services.

Attorney Andrew Bagley has been employed by the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike since January 2015; this company was involved deeply in the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hacking debacle.  In 2010, Bagley served as a visiting researcher at the Link Campus University in Rome; while there, his résumé notes that Bagley, “Conducted research and held discussions with Italian and American prosecutors, special agents, and intelligence officials about intelligence analysis, national security, cybersecurity, and counterterrorism policy.”  According to Bagley’s online résumé, he served as the E-Discovery Technical Advisor to the FBI, conducting legal research, advising on technical issues, and drafting policy for the Discovery Coordination and Policy Unit within the FBI, from 2012 to 2015.

Mifsud’s disappearance: Since Mifsud said publicly that the FBI interviewed him in February 2017, his disappearance is suspicious. Would the FBI really lose contact with the purported spark that initiated the entire Russian-collusion investigation?  If the FBI, the AISI, or some other allied intelligence or law-enforcement service is holding Mifsud, this fact should be made public.  Certainly, if Mifsud were an accomplished Russian intelligence asset, possessing an unsurpassed record of fraternization with senior members of both the British and the Italian foreign and intelligence services, Mifsud should have been in possession of an elaborate exit plan should his true identity and mission become known to the West.  Where is it?  If the FBI or the AISI has any evidence that Mifsud attempted to flee to Russia, it begs credulity that this supremely incriminating information would not be made public.

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