Theirs was a strange relationship. A woman spoke anonymously about her time with Joseph Mifsud, the man who promised Donald Trump’s campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, dirt on Hillary Clinton. The Maltese professor was linked to Russia, and he has been surrounded by a hazy intriguing mystery that could have fallen out of a spy novel.
The professor was not interested in Papadopoulos until he was named to the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos’s fiancé, Simona Mangiante, worked for Mifsud, and she told Buzzfeed:
‘I never understood if it was a facade for something else. It wasn’t a serious thing. For starters, I never understood what I was doing there, and they never paid me for three months, so I just said “OK, enough.” My impression (was that) he was not a transparent person and I never understood what he was really doing.’
Mifsud’s Ukrainian financee asked Buzzfeed to identify her as “Anna,” no last or real name, in an exclusive interview. She was 31 and seven months pregnant when her fiancee disappeared. He was the father of her baby.
The professor, 57, suddenly quit his job at one university and simply disappeared from his other university job. He no longer answers his cell phones, his emails, nor his WhatsApp messages. In his last message, he told Anna to not speak to the press.
Their daughter is six weeks old now.
People are looking for him, including people who worked with him, journalists, politicians, and maybe his enemies.
Anna met Mifsud four years ago at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre. While she was taking a selfie, he came up and offered to take her photo. After they talked for a while, he asked her to dinner.
Over the following three years, he came to Ukraine around 10 times. She said:
‘He came to celebrate a New Year, birthdays, my sister’s baby. He knew all my family. Something we celebrate, he would come. We had a good relationship.’
The professor proposed to Anna in a restaurant overlooking the Kremlin in late October 2015 and gave her a ring:
‘We had a plan to live in Rome. We spoke about this, but only speak. He tell me, I want a baby with you, I want a family with you.’
That year, the couple took a trip to Rome. Anna said that they stayed at a hotel where “people came to see him all the time.”
During their long-distance romance, he would frequently send her links via WhatsApp to “his interviews and photos from events he was speaking at, and telling her about his work as a professor” at the now defunct London Academy of Diplomacy.
They traveled to Moscow and Rome, where he often received visitors. Kiev, Ukraine was different:
‘He didn’t meet people in Kiev. (He said) “Russia-Ukraine relationship not good, and I do a lot of work in Moscow.”‘
Then, Anna said he asked her to unfriend anyone she had not met in person and delete a photo from her Facebook page that showed her holding a cocktail. He told her:
‘Because I am important man.”
The last time she saw her fiancee was in Kiev in early April 2017, after he told her he had been interviewed by the FBI in the U.S.:
‘He told me he was in his hotel room when he was called downstairs by reception. It was the FBI. He said they wanted to talk about connections he set up between people in Britain and Russia. He said his phone was probably being checked.’
The mysterious professor claimed to have had dinner with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov. Anna said:
‘He said, “I have dinner with Lavrov tonight. Lavrov is my friend. Lavrov this, Lavrov that.” He even show me picture with Lavrov.’
In May of 2017, he sent her some WhatsApp messages where he claimed to be in Saudi Arabia, followed by the G7 Summit in Sicily, Italy. The timing was interesting – exactly when and where Donald Trump made his first presidential trip.
Shortly afterward, Anna realized she was pregnant and told him via WhatsApp. He asked if the baby was his and promised to visit soon, but she said he told her he was sick or offered other excuses:
‘For 7 months, ‘I come, I come. He never helped me. Only talk and promises.’
In September he wrote:
‘You will be the most beautiful mummy … I cannot stop thinking of you. I am so proud of youuuuu I think we need to get a nanny to help you.’
By late October, he wrote he was “fighting to live.”
Mifsud talked with the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, which published the interview in November 2017. In that article, he said he met with Trump’s former campaign aide, George Papadopoulos “three or four times.” He also said he arranged meetings between “official and unofficial sources.”
Then, he was gone.
Featured Image via Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla.