What is Spygate?

“Spygate could be one of the biggest scandals in history”. With this tweet in May 2018, President Donald Trump launched a new campaign to discredit the investigation into “Russiagate“, pointing his finger at the Obama administration, the Department of Justice and above all the FBI. Few took the President’s claim seriously: the allegation is that his campaign in 2016 was “spied upon” to compromise it. It remained an allegation at least until former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before Congress and the closure of the investigation into Russiagate: from there we moved on to the next phase and all the attention was focused on the murky behaviour of the FBI and the Department of Justice and the suspicion that the federal agencies abused their powers and acted unlawfully towards the Trump campaign in 2016 for “sabotaging” the election of the tycoon in collaboration with foreign secret services  (Australia, Italy, United Kingdom). A conspiracy theory? After the Russiagate flop and, in general, the narrative that Trump colluded with the Kremlin representatives the idea has spread that the unclear points in this affair are numerous and controversial.

This belief gave rise to the investigation called “Spygate” and, specifically since last April, the month in which Attorney General William Barr set up a team of investigators led by United States Attorney John Durham to investigate the origins of the FBI investigation into Russiagate in 2016 and determine whether the gathering of information into the Trump campaign was “lawful and appropriate”. The purpose of the investigation is to ascertain whether high ranking officials in various US agencies abused their power to illegally gather information about a presidential campaign for political ends and to clarify the role of the secret services of countries allied to the USA mentioned in the paragraph above.

A key figure in this story is Professor Joseph Mifsud of Link University, a private university founded by former foreign minister Vincenzo Scotti. According to the official reconstruction, the lecturer stated in a meeting on April 2016 to George Papadopoulos, advisor on the Trump campaign team, that he had learned that the Russian government was in possession of “dirt” on Hillary Clinton “in the form of e-mails”. Papadopoulos repeated this information to the Australian High Commissioner in London Alexander Downer who, in his turn, reported everything to the US authorities. Then on 31 July 2016, the FBI began its enquiries into the alleged links between Trump and Russia, accusations which were subsequently proven false. So who designed and packaged all this to “nail” Trump?

The name of the Maltese lecturer, who in an interview with the LaRepubblica stated that he was “left-wing” and a member of the Clinton Foundation, emerged on several occasions and was referenced several times during Russiagate special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees by congressman Jim Jordan. As reported by Il Foglio, which published a photograph of the lecturer, the last sighting of Mifsud was on 21 May 2018, now eighteen months ago, at the offices of his lawyers in Zurich. Since then Mifsud seems to have disappeared into thin air.

As disclosed by ILGiornale.it, Joseph Mifsud gave a taped deposition to United States Attorney John Durham. According to the report by the investigative journalist John Solomon in The Hill, “Mifsud was a long-time co-operator of western intel who was asked specifically by his contacts at Link University Rome and the London Centre of International Law Practice (LCILP) – two academic groups with ties to Western diplomacy and intelligence services – to meet with Papadopoulos at a dinner in Rome in mid-March 2016″. Solomon obtained this information directly from Professor Mifsud’s lawyer, Stephan Roh. Roh explained that the idea of introducing Trump’s campaign director to the Russians did not come from Papadopoulos or Russia but Mifsud’s contacts with Link and the London Centre of International Law Practice.

In a letter dated 3 May sent to the FBI, the CIA and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Director of the National Security Agency, the Republican congressman Davin Nunes observes: “If Mifsud has extensive, suspicious contacts among Russian … in the special counsel’s report, then an incredibly wide range of Western institutions and individuals may have been compromised by him, including our own State Department”. Alternatively, Nunes continues citing Link University several times in his report, “if Mifsud isn’t a counterintelligence threat it “would cast doubt on the Special Counsel’s fundamental depiction of him and his activities, and raise questions about the veracity of his statements and affirmations”.

 

“All I can say is that in my opinion, Italy’s relationship  (with the United States) will not progress unless all the information about the activities of Joseph Mifsud and Link Campus concerning espionage and work with the US intelligence agencies against me and Trump in 2016-2017 is released”. This statement was issued to InsideOver on 11 August by George Papadopoulos, a former member of the advisory panel on foreign policy in Donald Trump’s presidential election campaign in 2016. Sentenced in September 2018 to14 days in prison for lying to the FBI during the investigation into alleged Russian interference, Papadopoulos published the book Deep State Target, a “first-hand account that proves the attempted sabotage of Donald Trump’s election campaign by American and international intelligence services”. A fully-fledged “plot”, according to Papadopoulos, that takes the name “Spygate”.

As Papadopoulos has always claimed, our country is “the epicentre of the conspiracy”. The former advisor of Donald Trump tells us why he was, in his words, a victim of this great conspiracy that involves US intelligence and western security services: “My work in the energy sector advising governments and American and Israeli energy companies is the reason why this terrible espionage affair has run me over”, he explains. It is here that the US political advisor brings up Italy in the period in which Matteo Renzi and Paolo Gentiloni were in the government: “Now all that has blown back on the American and Italian agencies in 2016 and many others as well”.

On Twitter, the former advisor of The Donald explained on 19 August that he was “looking forward to testifying”, revealing in advance what he would be saying. The Italian government at the time  (Renzi-Gentiloni) was fully involved and the accusations are very serious: “I also want the American people to see what happened. Being spied on by the FBI/CIA, UK, Australia and Italy is no joke, especially when the purpose was to attempt a coup and interfere in the democratic process in America. Will be telling it for the first time”.

A guest of Sean Hannity of on Fox News on 9 August, where he had been asked to comment on the recent developments in the Spygate enquiry, RudyGiuliani, former mayor of New York and now Donald Trump’s lawyer, confirmed that the investigations by United States Attorney Durham on the murky behaviour of the agency are now focusing on Italy as well and the role of our country in 2016. “You can’t believe what’s going to come out” the former mayor of the Big Apple emphasised. “These are crimes that go to the very heart of our Republic”, he added. “These people had a plan to stop the Republican candidate from getting elected and then they executed a plan to remove him from office on false evidence and false testimony. The whole thing was made up from the very beginning and they sold it to our media. It’s a tragedy!”, commented Giuliani.

According to Giuliani, there was an international conspiracy against the President of the USA: “There is plenty of evidence of what happened in Ukraine. Plenty of evidence of what happened in the UK. In Italy. This was a massive conspiracy to try to deprive the American people of the person they elected President”. “It looks like John Durham is spending an awful lot of time in Europe”, Hannity added. “I know why he is spending a lot of time in Europe – Trump’s lawyer replied – He’s spending a lot of time investigating Ukraine, Italy, UK and Australia”.

So were Donald Trump and his staff “spied on” in 2016? According to the US President they were and Italy was an accomplice. He confirmed this in an interview he gave on 19 June to Fox News. Anchorman Sean Hannity asked the President whether “Italy, Great Britain and Australia” were outsourced, intelligence gathering by high ranking people…to spy on American citizens and circumvent American laws”. The tycoon did not deny it and added: “and Ukraine. Take a look at Ukraine”.

The investigative journalist John Solomon published an article in The Hill in which he quotes ten classified documents that the US President could soon release and cause a political earthquake in Washington, confirming the argument that there was a conspiracy against the tycoon in the White House by the Democrats, the FBI, the Justice Department and the western secret services, the British and the Italians, first and foremost.

Amongst the ten classified documents quoted by the journalist of The Hill the most interesting one relates to our country and the role played by the Renzi and Gentiloni governments in the possible conspiracy against Donald Trump: they are documents that would prove that the allies of the USA in 2016 contributed to the efforts of the FBI to look into Trump’s links with Russia. In particular, we are talking about the security services of Great Britain, Australia and Italy. Counterespionage to the detriment of US citizens which, if corroborated, would have serious consequences. “My sources – Solomon writes – say that these documents might help to explain the recent comments of the Attorney General William Barr” regarding “the use of foreign intelligence capabilities and counterintelligence capabilities against an American political campaign, to me, is unprecedented and it’s a serious red line that’s been crossed”.

Furthermore, amongst the documents that could be released in the autumn are the minutes of the meetings between Christopher Steele – the former British spy and author of the dossier on Russia – and the FBI. These documents, known as the “1023 reports”, show exactly what happened every time that Steele and his contacts at the FBI met in the summer and autumn of 2016 to discuss the anti-Trump dossier. “The big reveal – Solomon claims – could be the first evidence that the FBI shared sensitive information with Steele, such as the existence of the classified Crossfire Hurricane”, the counterintelligence operation on links between Trump and the Russian government”.It would be a huge discovery to learn that the FBI gave to Steele intelligence information about Trump right in the middle of an election campaign given that the former spy was on the Democrats’ payroll. Then there are the 53 House Intelligence Committee interviews that reportedly include proof that a lawyer with ties to the Democratic National Committee had contacts with Russia through the CIA.

According to Solomon, the classified documents that could be released in the autumn by the US President include those that reportedly provide evidence of improper behaviour by the FBI and Justice Department towards the former advisors of the tycoon’s electoral campaign, George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, as well as  Steele’s spreadsheet. “A document reviewed recently showed that the FBI described Steele’s information as only minimally corroborated”, writes Solomon. The question is: if the FBI knew that the information gathered by Christopher Steele was completely unreliable why did they decide in any case to proceed against Donald Trump and investigate the alleged relations with the Kremlin?

The exclusive disclosure made by InsideOver on 28 September has been confirmed: William Barr, Attorney General of the United States, was in Italy for a few days from 25 until 27 September to gather evidence relating to “Spygate”. As George Papadopoulos, former member of the foreign policy advisory panel in Donald Trump’s presidential election campaign in 2016 told us, Barr was in Rome, at Palazzo Margherita – where the US embassy is located – in a particularly feverish few days for the US administration as Nancy Pelosi announced the launch of the impeachment proceedings against the President on account of the Kievgate scandal.

As the New York Times confirms, William Barr arrived in Italy around 25-26 September and met  Italian government officials on Friday 27 September. According to former Justice Department officials, the justice ministry asked several foreign countries, including Italy, to cooperate and hand over certain documents relating to the 2016 elections. Attorney General Barr’s trip to Italy was also confirmed by the Washington Post: the US Justice Department asked officials of the Conte government to provide whatever support was necessary to United States Attorney John Durham who was appointed to investigate the murky origins of Russiagate. According to the Washington Post, this was not Barr’s first visit to our country.

According to a report in the Daily Beast, when Barr arrived at the US embassy in Palazzo Margherita in Rome he asked for two things: a conference room to meet high level Italian security agents where he could be sure that nobody could listen in and a chair for United States Attorney John Durham who was appointed by Barr to cast light on Russiagate.

An official at the US embassy in Rome reportedly disclosed to the Daily Beast that William Barr’s visit to Italy was unexpected. According to the American news outlet, Barr and Durham were particularly interested in what the Italian secret services knew about Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese lecturer at Link University at the centre of the American Russiagate affair, the person who first – according to the enquiry by special counsel Robert Mueller – revealed to George Papadopoulos the existence of the compromising emails about  Hillary Clinton. The article in the Daily Beast sensationally goes on to say that Joseph Mifsud had sought the police protection in Italy after “disappearing” from Link University, Rome where he worked.

Mifsud reportedly provided a taped deposition in which he explained why “some persons” could do him harm. A source from the Italian Ministry of Justice, speaking on condition of anonymity, reportedly confirmed that Barr and Durham listened to the tape and there was supposedly an exchange of information between the US attorneys and Italian intelligence.

“As previously announced by the US Department of Justice, a team led by the United States Attorney John Durham is investigating the origins of the counter-espionage probe of the United States during the 2016 Trump presidential campaign”, commented Kerri Kupec, spokesman of the Department of Justice. “Durham is gathering information from numerous sources, including several foreign countries. At Attorney General Barr’s request, the President has contacted other countries to ask them to introduce the Attorney General and Mr. Durham to the appropriate officials”. There must, therefore, have been a telephone call between Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Donald Trump.

As he explained on Twitter, the Republican Congressman Jim Jordan: “AG Barr is following the facts where they lead about how the false collusion narrative started. This effort requires talking to intelligence agencies around the world. That’s why he’s gathering information from our allies, like Australia, Britain, and Italy”.


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