The useful thing about Prof. Joseph Mifsud is that we know he was a Russian spy simply by how he handled George Papadapoulos. We don’t need to question this, although it’d be nice to know his exact arrangement with Russian intelligence. That makes everything about Mifsud more interesting, since we can see how his cover was cultivated and what kinds of contacts he made. We can also assess the Russians’ level of competency in their tradecraft. In general, their work in this case was needlessly sloppy. The most obvious example was introducing Papadapolous to a woman falsely claiming to be Putin’s niece. Most likely, this highly risky move was made to compromise Papadopoulos by introducing the threat of making him look like a fool. But since it was such an easily detectable fraud, it wasn’t sound work on Mifsud’s part. The ruse might have been detected by the Trump campaign and short-circuited Papadopolous’s rise to the top of Trump’s national security team. Perhaps this kind of sloppiness is why Papadopoulos was quickly handed off to a handler in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In any case, there’s a definite lack of professionalism on display, but that’s to be expected when you decide to use eccentrics and weirdos as your agents.

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