A leading Republican said he will make a criminal referral to the Justice Department concerning special counsel Robert Mueller’s case against Trump adviser George Papadopoulos in connection to Russia “dirt” tipster Joseph Mifsud.
Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, signaled his intentions on Fox News on Monday, claiming newly released FBI interview notes known as 302s show that Mueller’s prosecutors misled the courts about what Papadopoulos told them about Mifsud, the mysterious Maltese academic who was central to the Trump-Russia saga.
“Remember the whole story that Papadopoulos needed to be really treated badly and sentenced to some time because he really stopped the FBI from being able to find Joseph Mifsud?” Nunes asked Laura Ingraham. “Well, it ends up that’s not true. That’s not what the 302s say. The 302s actually say that Papadopoulos was actually trying to help the FBI, and they’re the ones that said that Mifsud was going to be in the United States.”
The California congressman added that “the lawyers that wrote that to the court, that recommendation to the court, they need to be held accountable,” and “we’re scrubbing through all of these 302s, and we will be making some type of criminal referral.”
Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to making false statements to federal agents about his conversations with Mifsud, told investigators that Mifsud said in 2016 that Russia possessed damaging information on Hillary Clinton, a claim he conveyed to Australian Alexander Downer. The diplomat’s account of that conversation allegedly spurred the launch of the FBI’s Trump-Russia counterintelligence investigation.
Nunes pointed to an article by conservative investigative journalist Lee Smith for Just the News on Monday, which stated the FBI memos “directly conflict” with Mueller team court filings and show Papadopoulos “had in fact supplied information that would have enabled investigators to challenge or potentially detain or arrest Mifsud while he was in the United States.”
Papadopoulos tweeted that “Mueller and his hacks … lied.”
Mueller’s team argued in its August 2018 sentencing memorandum for Papadopoulos that “his lies were material to the investigation,” and “his lies to the FBI in January 2017 impeded the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.” Mueller’s team claimed that Papadopoulos’s lies “substantially hindered” its ability to “effectively question” Mifsud when the FBI located him in Washington. The team also claimed Papadopoulos’s lies “undermined” its ability to “challenge” Mifsud or even “detain or arrest him” while he was in the U.S.
Mifsud left the U.S. on Feb. 11, 2017.
During an FBI interview at George’s Ice Cream & Sweets Coffee Shop in Chicago on Feb. 1, 2017, Papadopoulos said he’d Googled Mifsud following the Jan. 27, 2017, FBI interview and “identified many open source internet articles that related Mifsud to both Russia and the Kremlin.” Additionally, he told the FBI he “knew Mifsud to be an associate of a Russian discussion club.” Papadopoulos said “that Mifsud was … coordinating all things related to Russia at the London Centre of International Law Practice.” He told the investigators that “Mifsud recently reached out to Papadopoulos and indicated that he may be traveling to Washington, D.C., in February 2017.” Papadopoulos also offered to “potentially meet with Mifsud” when traveling to London three weeks later.
In a Feb. 10, 2017, interview at Breen and Pugh Attorneys at Law in Chicago, Papadopoulos said, “Mifsud told Papadopoulos that Clinton had a lot of problems and then made a specific reference to her having problems with her emails.” When Papadopoulos asked how Mifsud knew, Mifsud “strangely chuckled” and said, “They told me they have them.”
Many of these details weren’t highlighted in the public offense statement against Papadopoulos in October 2017 or the sentencing recommendation the next year.
Mueller’s 2019 report mentioned Mifsud 89 times and claimed that “Papadopoulos’s false statements … hindered investigators’ ability to effectively question Mifsud when he was interviewed in the lobby of a Washington, D.C., hotel on February 10, 2017.” Mueller does not call Mifsud an agent of Russia but stated that Mifsud had “connections to Russia” and noted he “traveled to Moscow in April 2016” and “met with high-level Russian government officials” before telling Papadopoulos in London about the Clinton “dirt.”
Nunes previously said Mifsud likely has links to Western intelligence and accused Mueller’s team of deciding to “cherry-pick” information from news reports. DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz didn’t find evidence that Mifsud was an FBI asset.
Author: Jerry Dunleavy
Source: Washington Examiner: Devin Nunes: Mueller prosecutors should face criminal charges over Russia ‘dirt’ tipster