References to Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese professor who court documents say told Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos that Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, have been removed from the website of the university in Italy where he's worked for years.
When he was unmasked as the unnamed “overseas professor” cited in the documents filed in October by Trump–Russia special counsel Robert Mueller, Mifsud led a three-year degree course in political science and international relations, according to a bio then on the website of the Link Campus University in Rome. The Maltese academic was also listed as an overseas professor on the LCU’s faculty pages, archived versions of the website show.
The bio now leads to a 404 error page, while Mifsud’s name no longer appears on the LCU’s faculty pages.
An LCU professor, who spoke to BuzzFeed News on condition of anonymity because they feared they would lose their job, said they and other colleagues haven’t seen the Maltese academic on the Rome campus in many weeks.
Neither LCU nor the Maltese professor responded to multiple requests for comment on whether Mifsud still worked at the university.
In November, an LCU spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that Mifsud had held an on-and-off contractual relationship with the university since the 2000s. At the time, the spokesperson said that he was a visiting professor from the University of Stirling in Scotland. Mifsud quit his post at the Scottish university, where he was also working, a few weeks later, according to Scottish broadcaster STV.
The LCU source said in an email that Mifsud was “a lot more” than a visiting professor. The same source, based on direct conversations with Mifsud and the leadership at the university, told BuzzFeed News in November that the Maltese academic was one of the main drivers behind LCU’s partnerships with a string of international entities and universities, including Lomonosov Moscow State University, one of Russia’s most prestigious universities. (At the time, the LCU declined to say whether Mifsud, who spoke at an event in Moscow celebrating the partnership in October 2016, had any role in establishing the relationship.)
The LCU professor also said that international partnerships were part of a broader push to attract funding for the Italian university from Russia, the Middle East, and Asia.
Interest in Mifsud's current employment status was triggered in recent days by a New York Times report that Papadopoulos told Australia's ambassador to the UK in May 2016 that the Russians had "political dirt" on then–Democratic presidential candidate Clinton. According to the Times report, that information helped trigger the FBI's probe into contacts between Russian agents and the Trump campaign when it was passed to the US two months later — after WikiLeaks began publishing emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee.
In documents accompanying Papadopoulos's October guilty plea to charges he'd lied to FBI agents about his contacts with Mifsud, Mueller's office said Mifsud told Papadopoulos in late April 2016 that the Russians possessed "dirt" on Clinton "in the form of 'thousands of emails.'" That was nearly two months before the Russian hacking of the DNC computer system became public.
Also now missing from the LCU faculty pages is Nagi Idris, director of the London Centre of International Law Practice, an organization with which both Mifsud and Papadopoulos claimed to have been affiliated in the past. Idris was previously listed as an overseas professor on the faculty pages, according to archived versions of the website. And in an online bio he describes himself as a visiting professor at the university.