Sunday, February 25, 2018
George Papadopoulos and Carter Page : Intertwined Stories in the Spooks vs Russians FBI/DOJ/Mueller Collusion Saga
THE REAL NEWS TODAY IS ABOUT RUSSIANS AND A SELDOM-REFERENCED MEETING. The meeting was between George Papadopolous and Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese academic, with high level connections to the Russian state. He is a former employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malta, a former principal in the London Centre of International Law Pracitce. Mifsud was born on Malta in 1960, graduated from the University of Malta, the University of Padua, and Queen's University Belfast. • • • IS MIFSUD A SPY? The Guardian calls him a "shadowy professor," who has been welcomed by London, and says : "He seems to be a spy, but Joseph Mifsud meets ministers and lands university posts....‘Professor' Joseph Mifsud once said he was not a Russian spy. Then he vanished and stayed vanished despite multiple attempts by journalists to put pertinent questions to him. Though he is not named in the [Mueller] indictment, prosecutors working for the Mueller inquiry into Russian involvement in Donald Trump’s election allege this ghostly presence, this incredible vanishing man, was the conduit between the Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos and a Kremlin with 'dirt' to share on Hillary Clinton. The rest of us are in the dark. But perhaps not wholly so." • The Guardian notes that Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. For his part, says the Guardian, the “professor” has at least raised questions about how respectable academic institutions and the highest levels of British politics are open to penetration by kleptomaniac regimes : "Anyone who examines Mifsud’s career should be wary of believing a word he says. But on one point he is right. He’s not a traditional spy, if your image of the spy is a brutal cold war colonel from the KGB. He appears to be something altogether more modern. Mifsud is from Malta. He received a Phd from Queen’s University, Belfast in 1995, on how to reform primary school education, and then served as an assistant to a Maltese foreign minister....In 2008, he popped up at the EMUNI University in Slovenia. It may not be Europe’s most distinguished academic institution, but it was too distinguished for Mifsud. The Times of Malta reported he left in haste after pocketing €39,000 in expenses, including an impressive €13,767 for mobile calls." Where did Mifsud go after exiting Slovenia? The Guardian says : "Why, dear old London town, of course....Mifsud set up the 'London Academy of Diplomacy' and boasted to the Washington Diplomat that it was 'one of the best diplomatic academies in the world.' Mifsud denies any wrongdoing and is, of course, innocent until proved guilty. Still...the London Academy of Diplomacy does not look like an elite diplomatic finishing school...at first glance it appears to resemble just the type of front organisation an espionage agency would establish." • Mifsud expanded from his academy. According to the author of the Guardian article : "Undeterred by the rickety surroundings, Mifsud quickly found institutions ready to boost his credentials. The University of East Anglia took him on in 2011 and claimed he was a professor, although no one can see how he earned the title. In 2016, he moved to Stirling University, which was delighted that he flew 'the University of Stirling flag' at 'high-profile' meetings with Putin. You have to have encountered the fierce jealousy with which academics guard their specialisms to realise how unusual it is for two universities to treat Mifsud as an authority on international diplomacy when what expertise he possessed was on early years education. I asked Stirling and East Anglia what academic qualifications Mifsud had for the posts they granted him, what checks they had run on his academy and what financial arrangements they had made with him. Britain’s universities are as bad at replying to questions in the public interest as they are at defending freedom of speech. Stirling refused to answer. East Anglia said it might get back to me this week." • As soon as the scandal broke, the London Academy of Diplomacy closed its doors [NOTE : and apparently became the London Centre of International Law Practice], says the Guardian : "It’s almost as if it were an intelligence asset whose cover had been blown, rather than an academic institution dedicated to an impartial understanding of international affairs. But for a few years, East Anglia and Stirling helped Mifsud appear to be an expert on diplomacy. He put his unearned reputation to work. At one point, Mifsud said he was close to the Clinton Foundation. At another, he befriended and hired Gianni Pittella, the Italian leader of the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European parliament. Naturally, Mifsud moved in on Boris Johnson and the Tory right...Alok Sharma, a Foreign Office minister until June this year, confirmed Mifsud had attended a fundraising dinner in his constituency. Mifsud boasted he would be 'meeting Boris Johnson for dinner re Brexit.' And indeed he did meet [Johnson]. I don’t know how the Mifsud affair will end. But I do know this....when we talk of spies, we will soon need to think less of cruel men extracting secrets from terrified victims and more of podgy 'professors' pushing at open doors." • • • THE TIMES OF MALTA. Mifsud's 'hometown' paper, the Times of Malta, had this to say about him on January 27 : "Mueller is continuing with his investigations on the Trump-Russia Affair. A few weeks ago he called to testify Papadopoulos’s Italian fiancée Simona Mangiante. Both she and Papadopoulos had spent some time working for Mifsud. According to Mangiante, who spoke to the Business Insider, “I knew something was wrong from the first day I arrived there.” Mangiante added: 'It all felt very artificial. I had worked in real diplomatic environments and this didn’t feel that way at all. I never even had clarity about who [Mifsud] actually was.' Mueller continues to investigate. After having worked for Bartolo, duped Frendo into believing he would get him elected and glued himself to Muscat’s movement, will the mysterious Mifsud be the cause of President Trump’s downfall? Time will tell." • Not a glowing endorsement of a Malta native son. • • • SIMONA MANGIANTE. Business Insider wrote in early January that the wedding plans of Simona Mangiante, a 29-or-34-year-old Italian lawyer -- her ages are variously reported -- and former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos that were put on hold after Papadopoulos was arrested and put on house arrest last July. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russia-linked professor Joseph Mifsud, and Mangiante found herself in Mueller's crosshairs, too. Mangiante says her fiancé, George Papadopoulos, is staying positive : "George is very calm. There are moments, of course, when we get down. There are a lot of restrictions." • Papadopoulos, a young energy consultant was apparently working in London and as part of Mifsud's academy before his work for the Trump campaign landed him squarely in the middle of the FBI's investigation into Russia's election interference, has been on house arrest since last July at the home he owns with his mother and younger brother in Chicago. • Simona Mangiante was allegedly recruited by Mifsud from the European parliament because of her excellent contacts book. Through Mifusd's academy, she met and fell in love with Papadopoulos. She now lives with him in Chicago, but remembered that, while the academy had an impressive London address in a townhouse overlooking Lincoln’s Inn Fields, behind its doors there was just one table for the staff to work from. They had to supply their own laptops and were wary of the 'sneaky' Mifsud. Mangiante and Papadopoulos first met in person in New York in April 2017, she said, about seven months after they first started chatting on LinkedIn. They traveled to Europe that summer for a whirlwind vacation and parted ways in late July, with Mangiante staying in Italy and Papadopoulos heading back to the US. Mangiante said : "We had traveled to Mykonos, to Athens, and to Capri. He had finished his work for the campaign and I had left my job at the European Parliament. We spent every second together." • But, upon landing at Dulles airport in Washington, DC on July 27, Papadopoulos was arrested by the FBI. By the time he emerged from his Alexandria jail cell on July 28, Papadopoulos had become a cooperating witness in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. Mangiante said she did not hear from him again for five days. Then, on August 1. Papadopoulos's cousin wrote to her on Facebook, explaining that he had been arrested. Managinate said : "It was traumatic, and completely unexpected. I didn't know what was going on. So I went to the US, and everything changed completely." • Mangiante flew to Chicago to see Papadopoulos and was served with a subpoena by a federal agent working for Mueller, who had already charged Papadopoulos with lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia-linked foreign nationals during the election. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to the charge. Mangiante said receiving the subpoena was "unreal. When he came to deliver my subpoena, my first reaction was to contact the Italian embassy." The embassy told her that they could find an American lawyer to represent her in Chicago. But the rate would be about $800 per hour -- money she said she didn't have. So she went into the interview without one. The interview lasted about two hours, and they asked "a lot of questions about Joseph Mifsud," Mangiante said, referring to the London-based professor who told Papadopoulos in April 2016 that the Russians had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails." Mangiante told BI she was happy with the interview because she had nothing to hide : "It was shocking to me that they wanted me as a witness." • • • WHY WAS MUELLER INTERESTED IN SIMONA MANGIANTE? Business International says : "The FBI's interest in Mangiante makes sense given the three months she spent working for Mifsud -- from September through November of 2016 -- at the London Centre of International Law Practice. The organization listed Mifsud as its director as recently as October, but his biography was deleted from the website following Papadopoulos' indictment. The special counsel's statement of offense outlined Papadopoulos' contact with a London-based 'professor' who was later identified as Mifsud in news reports. Mangiante said she first met Mifsud when she started her job at the European Parliament in 2009. He struck her as a lobbyist who worked 'to connect people from different governments,' she said. When her contract was up in September 2016 with the European Parliament in Brussels, Mangiante wanted to move to London. Scouring LinkedIn, she noticed that Mifsud's organization was looking to hire people with experience working for the EU. On her arrival at Mifsud's London Centre, Mangiante felt that : "something was wrong from the first day I arrived there. It all felt very artificial. I had worked in real diplomatic environments and this didn't feel that way at all. I never even had clarity about who [Mifsud] actually was." Mangiante left the organization in November 2016. By that point, she had already begun chatting with Papadopoulos, who had messaged her on LinkedIn two months earlier after seeing that they shared a mutual professional connection -- Mifsud. 'Not even George really knew anything about him,' Mangiante said." • • • THE AUSTRALIAN DIPLOMAT AND PAPADOPOULOS. Business International says Mifsud came under renewed scrutiny in January, when the New York Times reported that Papadopoulos drunkenly told an Australian diplomat in a May 2016 London encounter -- one month after meeting with Mifsud -- that Russia had dirt on Clinton. The diplomat relayed the details of his conversation with Papadopoulos to Australian government officials, who in turn relayed it to the US government shortly after news surfaced that the Democratic National Committee had been hacked. Papadopoulos' inadvertent disclosure, combined with the DNC data breach, were apparently leaked and started being cited by Progressives, Democrats, and the mainstream media such as the NYT as what triggered the FBI's Trump-Russia probe. Asked why she thought Papadopoulos told the Australian diplomat about Russia's Clinton dirt, or what he may have meant by it, Mangiante said she wasn't certain : "I was not there. But they clearly had had many drinks." • • • MIFSUD'S RUSSIAN CONNECTIONS. Mifsud has also been filmed speaking at the Valdai Discussion Club, a think tank based in the Russian city of Veliky Novgorod that is close to President Vladimir Putin and hosts him every year for a keynote address. Mifsud also wrote three pro-Russia articles that are featured on Valdai's website. Beyond that, BI says not much is known. In November, Mifsud disappeared from Link Campus University (LCU) in Rome, the private university where he has worked on-and-off since the early 2000s. Mifsud managed the university's international partnerships, according to BuzzFeed, including one with Lomonosov Moscow State University. Court documents filed by Mueller's team and made public in late October show that Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal agents about the timing and nature of his conversations with Mifsud. He told the FBI in his January interview that Mifsud was "a nothing" and "just a guy talk[ing] up connections or something." But, he did not tell the agents initially about Mifsud's claims that he had high-level Russian government connections and had learned of Kremlin dirt on Clinton. • LCU has since removed Mifsud's biography from their website. The school also removed the biography for Nagi Idris, the director of Mifsud's London Centre of International Law Practice. Mangiante said she was introduced to Idris on her first day of work at the Centre. Before it was pulled, Mifsud's London Centre biography said he had "lectured extensively throughout the world," "worked in a number of universities," "attended and chaired conferences" and "organized major ministerial and institutional meetings on pan-Mediterranean dialogue." He also worked for the government of his native Malta. • • • THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND PAPADOPOULOS. The Trump campaign, after Papadopoulos' guilty plea, described him as a "coffee boy" who played no meaningful foreign policy role? Simona Mangiante rejects that claim : "I've seen the emails," Mangiante said, referring to Papadopoulos' communications during the election with high-level members of the Trump campaign. • She told ABC last month that Papadopoulos had communicated with Steve Bannon, who chaired the campaign before becoming the White House chief strategist, and Michael Flynn, a top campaign surrogate who Trump later appointed national security advisor. 'It's very naive to dismiss somebody like that, as a 'coffee boy,' when you have evidence,' Mangiante said. 'They're just undermining all of George's efforts. He even helped to organize a meeting between Trump and [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah] el-Sisi through a connection he had at the Egyptian embassy.' • In an interview with the Corriere della Serra, Mangiante was asked : "How did he end up on Trump’s electoral committee?" Her answer was : "He’s an expert on energy issues. In Washington he was at the Hudson Institute [NOTE : The Hudson Institute said in a statement that Papadopoulos was just an unpaid intern in 2011 and only worked as a freelance contractor for one Hudson senior fellow in 2013 and 2014]. Then he came into contact with Ben Carson [NOTE : Carson hired him because of the Hudson Institute reference on his CV], and went on to join Trump’s committee, where he devoted himself mainly to the Middle East, putting to good use his relations with prominent figures, especially in Egypt and Israel." • BI says it is possible that : "Papadopoulos represented the campaign at numerous points during the election. He attempted for months to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin, helped craft Trump's first major foreign policy speech, and gave an interview as a Trump campaign official to Russia's Interfax News Agency six weeks before Election Day. He also represented the campaign at a Republican National Convention event and met with Israeli leaders as a foreign policy advisor during Trump's inauguration." The Trump organization has denied most ofthese assertions. • On February 7, the Washington Post ran an article on the Papadopoulos-Mangiante relationship : "They were brought together through the serendipity of a mutual connection -- a man [Joseph Mifsud] who now plays a central role in Papadopoulos’s guilty plea....Mangiante and Papadopoulos’s relationship just happened to hinge on a man listed in a sworn affidavit as a potential Russian cutout [an undercover spy who has contact with his handler but is generally hidden from the wider intel organization]....The couple, then two strangers, first connected over the social networking site LinkedIn after Papadopoulos noticed that they shared a mutual connection, Joseph Mifsud, a mysterious former Maltese government official who ran an institute called the London Centre of International Law Practice in Britain. Mangiante, 34, had started working at the organization after meeting Mifsud while she was employed at the European Parliament in Brussels. Papadopoulos, 30, who had worked for Mifsud’s organization as well, reached out to say he liked her profile picture. 'How do you know him?' Papadopoulos asked her about Mifsud, Mangiante said in an interview with Business Insider. 'What does he do? Not even George really knew anything about him.'....Meanwhile, Mifsud is at the center of Papadopoulos’s case in the Russia investigation, as outlined by the special counsel. Referred to in court documents as 'the professor,' it is Mifsud and the statements federal authorities said he made to Papadopoulos that the Russians had 'dirt' on Hillary Clinton in the form of 'thousands of emails,' which helped land Papadopoulos in hot water. He is one of the purported Russia-linked contacts that Papadopoulos first told investigators had occurred before the campaign, when in fact they occurred during the campaign, according to court documents in the case. Mifsud, who has not been charged in the investigation, has denied the claims Papadopoulos made to federal authorities as 'nonsense. I strongly deny any discussion of mine about secrets concerning Hillary Clinton,' he told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica last year.” • In the Mueller plea agreement, Papadopoulos depicts Mifsud as a contact eager to help play matchmaker between the Trump team and President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. The Washington Post wrote last November 4 : "Mifsud introduces Papadopoulos to a woman he identifies as Putin’s niece, promises top-level Russian meetings for Trump aides and returns from a visit to Moscow offering 'dirt' on Hillary Clinton based on 'thousands of emails' obtained by the Russian government. The plea agreement makes no direct accusation against Mifsud. But a sworn affidavit from FBI Special Agent Robert Gibbs at least raises the possibility he was a Russian cutout : 'The Russian government and its intelligence and security services frequently make use of non-governmental intermediaries to achieve their foreign intelligence objectives,' Gibbs writes. 'This structure serves in part to hide the overt involvement of the Russian government.' Russia, he continues, 'has used individuals associated with academia and think tanks in such a capacity.' Mifsud last week insisted he was 'not a secret agent. I never got any money from the Russians.' But on other points he has been contradictory. When the indictment was unsealed on Monday, he initially denied that he was the 'professor' cited in the court papers. Then on Tuesday he confirmed it, but told London’s Daily Telegraph that the descriptions of his role were 'exaggerated' and insisted he had had no contact with Russian officials. But the same day, The Post reported that he had boasted to his former assistant late last year that he had had a meeting with Putin. On Wednesday, he told Italy’s La Repubblica that Papadopoulos’s claims about him in the indictment were 'nonsense. I strongly deny any discussion about secrets concerning Hillary Clinton,' he said. 'I swear it on my daughter.' But then, minutes later, he related that he had been in Moscow during the presidential campaign and had had a conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He also said he was in touch with officials at Russian think tanks that are considered close to the Kremlin and the Foreign Ministry. As for the alleged niece of Putin, Mifsud laughed off the suggestion that she was related to the Russian president. 'She’s just a student,' he said. 'A very good-looking one.'....Equally perplexing was the London Center of International Law Practice. The center supposedly operates from a fine Georgian building overlooking a leafy London square. When a Post reporter buzzed the door on several occasions during business hours last week, no one answered. Until recently, the staff Web page had 33 people listed on it, including Joseph Mifsud. But the page was deleted on October 23, a week before the Papadopoulos plea agreement was unsealed....Another person connected to the center was Papadopoulos, who worked there in the spring of 2016 under the lofty title of director of the Center for International Energy and Natural Resources Law & Security. It’s unclear whether the center explains how the young Papadopoulos and the middle-aged Mifsud first connected. But, Andrew Glencross [NOTE : a politics expert who taught at Stirling between 2013 and 2016] described Mifsud for the WP as 'personable, congenial' and 'an inveterate name dropper in terms of politicians.' Glencross speculated that whenever they met, they probably saw in each other kindred spirits. '[Mifsud] is exactly the type of person who is on the make, or wants to be on the make in foreign policy circles,' he said. 'I can see why someone like Papadopoulos, if he wanted to make himself seem more important, he would want to latch on to someone like Joseph.' ” • • • THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PAPADOPOULOS STORY. On February 4, TruthDig published a long analysis of the Steele Dossier and the Nunes Memo by contributor Scott Ritter, a United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998, who has become controversial because of his later criticism of US foreign policy in the Middle East. Ritter spent more than a dozen years in the intelligence field, beginning in 1985 as a ground intelligence officer with the US Marine Corps. • In his long analysis, Ritter has this to say about the Nunes Memo connection to George Papadopoulos : "Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS, told investigators from both the Senate and the House that Steele was so concerned with the national security implications of the information he was collecting on Trump that, on his own volition, he reached out to a prior contact in the FBI stationed in Rome to bring it to the attention of US authorities [NOTE: Steele was rabidly anti-Trump]. Steele’s connection with this FBI contact dated to 2010, when Steele provided reporting to the FBI’s Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force that proved useful in a subsequent FBI investigation of corruption in the upper levels of the world soccer association, or FIFA. Steele’s FBI contact, special agent Michael Gaeta, was, as of 2016, assigned to the US Embassy in Rome as an assistant legal attaché. Steele and Gaeta met in Rome on July 5, 2016, when Steele provided a copy of his initial memo that, among other details, reported on the Russians’ compilation of a Dossier of compromising information on Hillary Clinton. The media has treated this meeting very casually, as if it were a chance encounter between two old friends. This, however, is not how the FBI works. Steele may have viewed Gaeta as an 'old friend,' but to Gaeta, Steele was what the FBI called an 'extra-territorial confidential human source,' or ET CHS, with whom any relationship required vetting and approval at multiple levels of FBI bureaucracy, regardless of Steele’s status as a prior confidential source. The FBI is not in the business of haphazardly collecting information on American citizens, especially high-profile ones such as Donald Trump. Before Gaeta could continue working with Steele, several steps would have had to been taken to validate his utility as an FBI source." Ritter says the FBI would have undertaken what it calls “an open full investigation” that would guide any relationship between the FBI and the Steele...."determining whether the information he provided supported an existing investigation or was of sufficient quality and detail to warrant opening a new, stand-alone investigation. Given the sensitive circumstances surrounding the information Steele provided, any request for guidance submitted by Gaeta would have been subjected to even greater scrutiny by the FBI bureaucracy. The information Steele provided to Gaeta would have been forwarded to the FBI’s directorate of intelligence, which oversees the FBI’s confidential human source program, for evaluation...for reliability, authenticity, integrity and overall value of a given source....this evaluation would have been overseen by the FBI’s human intelligence management unit." Ritter says : "The House Intelligence Committee majority Memo made mention of this process when it noted that, according to assistant director Bill Priestap, head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division...was conducting source validation of the Steele information (the memo further noted that this validation process was 'still in its infancy,' and that the Steele data had been 'minimally corroborated')....the agency would have subjected Gaeta’s request to use Steele as an ET CHS to what is called an 'enhanced review,' which would have been overseen by Carlos Cases, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s international operations division, who was responsible for legal attaché operations at the time. Steele also would have been thoroughly vetted by special agent Peter Strzok, deputy director of the FBI’s counterintelligence directorate, who oversaw a counterintelligence investigation opened by the FBI in late June 2016 to investigate allegations of Russian interference in the elections arising from the alleged theft and subsequent public dissemination of emails from the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Strzok’s investigation provided the 'hook' needed by Gaeta and the FBI to legitimately consider Steele as an ET CHS, and Strzok would have carefully evaluated all information provided by Steele." • Ritter states : "This is not an insignificant factor. The House Intelligence Committee majority Memo notes that the October 21, 2016, FISA application targeting Page incorporated information from an FBI investigation into another foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign named GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS. Papadopoulos had come to the FBI’s attention through information provided by the Australian government that detailed a May 2016 meeting between an Australian diplomat, Alexander Downer, and Papadopoulos in a London bar. During this meeting, Papadopoulos recounted an April 2016 conversation with a Maltese professor named Joseph Mifsud, who claimed that the Russian government had 'thousands' of emails belonging to Clinton that contained compromising information. WikiLeaks’ publication of stolen DNC emails in June 2016 provided the FBI with the nexus needed to use the Australian information to open an investigation on Papadopoulos. For Strzok, the information Steele provided Gaeta about the existence of a Russian Dossier of compromising communications involving Clinton provided corroboration for the Downer/Papadopoulos information. This created the kind of circular corroboration that human source managers seek to avoid, one in which Steele’s information was used to corroborate the Papadopoulos information, which was then used to sustain a FISA warrant application targeting Carter Page that was justified, in large part, by the information provided to the FBI by Steele." • Simply put, according to Ritter : "The degree to which the FISA court was made aware of the extent of the cross-corroboration and source contamination inherent in the Papadopoulos information used to sustain the FISA warrant application targeting Page is unknown. However, the communication of sensitive FBI information by a case agent such as Gaeta to a confidential human source such as Steele is a violation of FBI procedure, and would normally be justification for invalidating Steele as a confidential human source. In short, Steele’s information should never have seen the light of day in any FISA court warrant application. This would also hold true for any information, such as the Papadopoulos conversation with Downer, for which Steele’s information was used as a means of corroboration." • The FBI vetting that Ritter refers to -- vetting and validating a confidential human source as sensitive as Steele -- would take about 60 days, according to Ritter. During this time, Ritter says : "Because Steele made extensive use of sub-sources, this aspect of his work would also have to be factored into the plan. This time frame tracks with the chronology of Simpson’s declared interactions with the FBI -- about 2.5 months transpired between Steele’s initial meeting in Rome on July 5, 2016, and his follow-up meeting in mid-to-late September 2016....What emerges is the reality that when Steele traveled to Rome in September 2016, it wasn’t for continuing an informal relationship between himself and special agent Gaeta, as Simpson contended in his congressional testimony. By this time, Steele had been carefully vetted by both the FBI and DOJ, and Gaeta had been formally designated as the case agent responsible for handling an extra-territorial confidential human source -- Christopher Steele....The nature of their financial arrangement would have been spelled out, as well as the intelligence collection plan Steele was being charged with implementing. The latter is a critical factor that has been overlooked in the coverage of the Steele Dossier....the fact is that following the late September 2016 meeting with the FBI in Rome, Steele was serving as a controlled confidential human source for the FBI, preparing reports from sub-sources based upon specific tasking from the FBI. The FBI relationship with Steele was that of a controlled extra-territorial confidential human source whose activities were scripted by both the FBI and the DOJ to further the prosecutorial or intelligence objectives of the investigation. Every aspect of the relationship between the FBI and Steele would have been documented at multiple levels within the FBI and DOJ." • The extent to which Steele’s relationship with Fusion GPS was communicated to the FBI and the DOJ is unknown, but Ritter states : "The House Intelligence Committee majority Memo notes, however, that both the FBI and DOJ were aware of the 'political origins' of the information Steele had provided to the FBI....The problem for the FBI was that it had used Steele’s information to support its investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, mainly in the form of sworn affidavits submitted in support of a FISA warrant derived from the FBI’s interactions with Steele. Corn’s [Mother Jones] article of his interview of Steele exposed as a lie the information at the heart of the FBI and DOJ’s FISA warrant application, simultaneously invalidating any information attributed to Steele, as well as all information that relied upon Steele’s now-tainted information for corroboration. This included...the Papadopoulos information. As of October 2016, the FBI had yet to interview Papadopoulos. Without corroboration of the information Steele provided in his June 20, 2016, report, turned over to Gaeta on July 5, 2016, the counterintelligence investigation Strzok headed would have not been able to act on the information the Australian government provided concerning alleged barroom conversations between Papadopoulos and Downer. The 'emails' allegedly alluded to by Papadopoulos that Mifsud claimed Russia possessed would have had no 'hook' to corroborate them. The emails WikiLeaks released in July 2016 that triggered Strzok’s investigation had either not been written at the time Papadopoulos spoke with Mifsud in April 2016 or had not yet been compiled by the malware alleged by the cybersecurity company CrowdStrike to have been behind the theft of the DNC emails." • • • DEAR READERS, as Scott Ritter concluded : "Void of the Steele Dossier as corroboration, the Papadopoulos-Mifsud conversation, as reported by Downer, simply had no legal legs to stand on, and as such would have been unusable in support of a FISA warrant application. Underscoring the seriousness the FBI attached to this issue, James Baker, the FBI’s general counsel, met with Corn prior to the 2016 election. Corn specifically denies that Baker was a source for his article on Steele. The only other explanation for a Baker-Corn meeting would be for the FBI’s general counsel to confirm Steele as Corn’s source in support of the FBI’s subsequent decision to sever relations with Steele, including the forfeiture of the $50,000 payment Steele was to have received for his work." We know that both FBI director James Comey and former deputy Attorney General Sally Yates signed off on the initial application for a FISA warrant in October 2016, as well as the initial application for renewal submitted in January 2017." But, says Ritter, if the FBI and DOJ FISA renewal left unchanged the information linked to Steele that underpinned its initial application, it was "misleading at best," because by January 2018, the FBI had terminated its relationship with Steele based on the deceit of the former British intelligence officer. Thus : "all Steele’s reporting should have been recalled as unreliable, as well as any corroborating information that could be linked to Steele in any way," including the Papadopoulos investigation. • The Steele-Russia-Page story line and the Mifsud-Papadopoulos story provided to Business Insider by Simona have much in common. Page and Papadopoulos were both in the energy consulting business and had business contacts with Russia; both were contacted by Russians or men with Russian connections; both had Trump campaign roles or contacts; both tried to use those roles and contacts to hype their importance; both were caught in the Mueller investigation because of that hyping; the Trump campaign denied that they had key campaign roles. • It is easy to argue that both Papadopoulos and Page were unwitting pieces in the Russian meddling campaign, used as sources for information and to spread Fake sinister connections inside the Trump campaign, and also setting up the FBI to use them as sources that permitted FISA surveillance of Trump and his campaign and transition teams. BUT, the George Papadopoulos story has one extra element -- Simona Mangiante. We know little about her, except what she tells us heself. Italian media say she was born near Naples of Italian parents. She vaguely answered ABC News questions about whether she speaks Russian. Was she the "Putin niece" Joseph Mifsud introduced to Papadopoulos -- if so, did Papadopoulos believe Mifsud? We have no idea. Was Simona Mangiante a Russian spy or an unwitting conduit to Papadopoulos and the Trump campaign. We simply do not know. • In fact, could Papadopoulos and Page have been cutout spies for either the Russians OR the FBI? All questions with no answers as yet. • Tomorrow we'll look at the Carter Page story.