After Papadopoulos was sentenced in early September, he was freer to speak for himself. Unsurprisingly, he sounded a lot like Mangiante. After telling a judge that he “made a terrible mistake” in not being forthcoming with the FBI, Papadopoulos took to Twitter, where he has maintained that Mifsud—a Maltese professor whose interactions with Papadopoulos in April 2016 purportedly triggered the FBI’s Russia investigation—was actually a deep-state plant working for Western intelligence agencies hoping to entrap the Trump campaign. (Papadopoulos’s former lawyer, Thomas Breen, told reporters last month that he believed that Mifsud was working for the Russians. Papadopoulos, who considered taking back his guilty plea over the summer but decided against it, has since hired new attorneys.) Mifsud, meanwhile, apparently believes that Papadopoulos set him up. In a book co-written by Stephan Roh, a German multimillionaire with ties to Russia who now calls himself Mifsud’s lawyer, Mifsud was quoted as calling Papadopoulos an “agent provocateur.”
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Name-calling aside, Papadopoulos eventually admitted to withholding information from the FBI about his conversations with Mifsud, who told him that Russia had Clinton’s emails well before the hack on the Democratic National Committee was made public. It is still not clear how Mifsud seemed to know in advance that Russia sought to compromise Clinton’s candidacy.
Throughout all of this, Mangiante, who says she worked for Mifsud at the London Centre of International Law Practice in 2016, has had to answer for discrepancies in her résumé and comments she has made about her real age. The oddities have sowed more doubt about Mangiante’s background, which has been scrutinized not only by journalists but also by Mueller’s investigators. Earlier this month, a law firm Mangiante claimed to work for as an associate from September 2007 to November 2008, Mayer Brown, issued a statement saying it had no record of her employment. The firm maintained that these records don’t exist, but noted later that it was possible she had worked there as an unpaid intern for four months in 2007. After battling the law firm to correct the statement, Mangiante appeared to acquiesce, quietly changing the dates and description of that employment on her LinkedIn page to match the details issued by the firm. Amid that controversy, Mangiante showed ABC News a photo of her Italian passport to prove her identity. But she later admitted to altering the passport photo and date of birth.
Papadopoulos, for his part, believes he landed on the FBI’s radar because of his “energy business ties to Cyprus and Israel that threatened British interests”—not because he had any ties to Russia. “Do you really think someone like me who had no connection at all to Russia would just randomly run into the one guy on the planet who apparently had the keys to the kingdom regarding a massive conspiracy?” he asked me in a private message earlier this month. But it wasn’t just one chance encounter; according to the charging documents that Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to, he met Mifsud three times from March to April. They continued to email through April, with Papadopoulos expressing consistent interest in a Trump-Russia relationship that Mifsud said he could facilitate. And on April 26, over breakfast in London, Mifsud told Papadopoulos that he had just returned from a trip to Moscow where he had learned from high-level Russian-government officials that Moscow had “dirt” on Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.”