Why It Matters That Sidney Powell Wants Data From Joseph Mifsud’s Smartphones

Why It Matters That Sidney Powell Wants Data From Joseph Mifsud’s Smartphones

While Sidney Powell’s latest motion barely comprised two pages, the implications are multi-pronged and monumental.
Margot Cleveland
By

On Tuesday, attorney Sidney Powell struck again, revealing yet another huge development in the Spygate saga between the lines of her latest motion. That motion, filed in the still-pending criminal case against Trump’s former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, demanded exculpatory evidence from federal prosecutors.

But unlike her previously filed motion to compel, here Powell seeks evidence “that has only recently come into its possession.” And the evidence sought? The data and metadata from two Blackberry devices used by Joseph Mifsud.

While Powell’s latest motion barely equaled two pages, the implications are multi-pronged and monumental.

That the U.S. government has only recently obtained possession of a pair of smartphones used by Joseph Mifsud tells us two things: that Attorney General William Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham’s probe into the origins of the Russia-collusion hoax is both serious and successful, and that the Crossfire Hurricane targeting of President Trump and former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation were neither.

After all, Mifsud was the man whose tip to young Trump volunteer advisor George Papadopoulos, that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton, supposedly formed the basis for the FBI to launch Crossfire Hurricane’s targeting of the Trump campaign in late July 2016. Yet no one bothered to interview Mifsud until six months later, when he traveled to D.C. to speak at a conference sponsored by the State Department.

And then the FBI let him go, later blaming Papadopoulos for their inability to properly question the purported Russian agent. Mueller seemed equally uninterested in Mifsud—a strange position to take toward a putative enemy agent.

In contrast, Barr and Durham seemingly considered Mifsud key to understanding the Russia-collusion investigation. At least their reported trip last month to Italy suggested as much, with the Washington Post repeating the news that while there, “Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham were played a taped deposition from when Mifsud reportedly applied for police protection.”

The timing of the Italy trip, Powell’s motion, and her assertion that the government only recently came into possession of Mifsud’s two smartphones, all suggest Barr and Durham returned stateside with the evidence—something a serious investigation into potential Russia collusion back in 2016 would have already looked at.

It would be an impossibility for our government to cordially obtain Mifsud’s smartphones if he were truly a Russian agent. If he were, he’d not hand over his smartphones to the United States or allow the Italian government to do so.

Powell’s revelation that the government has Mifsud’s two Blackberries goes deeper, too: It connects to the shocker Powell shared in a previous court filing—that Mifsud attended the Russia Today dinner in Moscow on December 17, 2015, where Flynn was photographed with Vladimir Putin. That dinner marks a second connection between Trump campaign folks and Mifsud, with Papadopoulos as the other.

In her motion, Powell suggests Mifsud had been tasked against Flynn, seeking, along with other agents, to arrange “—unbeknownst to him—‘connections’ with certain Russians that they would then use against him in their false claims.” But Powell is handicapped in making this argument, because the prosecution refused to turn over much of the evidence she seeks to defend her client.

Federal prosecutors have not said no to providing Mifsud’s smartphone data, at least not yet. Instead, in response to Powell’s request for the data, the government told her that “if we determine that they contain information that is discoverable or that is relevant to sentencing, we will produce them to you.”

This response proves intriguing and triply so. First, the prosecutors speak of deciding, which suggests that they have not yet reviewed the smartphones. That raises an interesting possibility—that Barr and Durham are controlling the investigation of the investigators and they had yet to see the smartphones or data. Yet Powell knew about the phones, suggesting she has a well-placed source sympathetic to Flynn’s plight, or outraged by the political and prosecutorial abuse on display in this case, or both.

Finally, the government’s response indicates that federal prosecutors may be ignoring presiding Judge Emmet Sullivan’s standing order. In that standing order, Sullivan ordered the government to produce to “any evidence in its possession that is favorable to defendant and material either to defendant’s guilt or punishment.” But in its response to Powell, the government speaks of only providing evidence “relevant to sentencing,” and seemingly ignores the court’s directive, which was to provide any evidence favorable to Flynn and material to either his guilt or his punishment (sentence).

The court is not likely to rule on Powell’s latest filing for some time. And who knows, by then Barr and Durham may have already issued their report.

Margot Cleveland is a senior contributor to The Federalist. Cleveland served nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk to a federal appellate judge and is a former full-time faculty member and current adjunct instructor at the college of business at the University of Notre Dame. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.

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