The Senate Intelligence Committee met in private Monday with Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos, whose husband unwittingly helped prompt the FBI investigation of President Trump’s campaign, as part of its ongoing probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The panel asked Mangiante Papadopoulos about her former employer Joseph Mifsud, a London-based professor with suspected ties to the Kremlin, she told The Washington Post in a brief interview. Mifsud, prosecutors have said, offered to help her husband, George Papadopoulos, broker meetings between the Trump campaign and Russian officials — a subject of intense interest to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
George Papadopoulos, who also worked for Mifsud, spent two weeks in jail for lying to federal investigators about his contacts with Russians. Mifsud has told The Post he has no ties to Russia outside of academia.
“I was happy to provide information,” Mangiante Papadopoulos said, noting that congressional investigators sought her testimony because she has substantive knowledge of Mifsud. “Definitely not because I am a Russian spy,” she added, a reference to accusations made on social media.
Mangiante Papadopoulos said congressional investigators were more focused on her experience working with Mifsud than what she knew of her husband’s activities during the campaign.
Spokeswomen for the committee’s leadership declined to comment.
George Papadopoulos sparked federal investigators’ interest in Trump because of a 2016 conversation Papadopoulos had with an Australian diplomat in which he indicated that the Russians had obtained emails damaging to Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. The conversation occurred weeks before the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks made such emails public.
Trump and those close to him have taken pains to distance themselves from Papadopoulos, denying that he played an important role in the campaign. But Papadopoulos has asserted that when he offered to use his contacts to reach out to Russia, Trump “nodded with approval,” according to his lawyer.
Mifsud ran an organization, the London Center of International Law Practice, where Mangiante Papadopoulos and her husband had worked. Mangiante Papadopoulos was hired after working for the European Parliament but left after three months. She has since suggested that Mifsud’s operation was a “facade for something else” and that neither she nor her husband ever fully understood Mifsud’s work. She told the Guardian newspaper last year that Mifsud never paid her.
As The Post previously reported, Mifsud claimed in private to have several Russian contacts — and to have even met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In March 2016, according to court documents, he introduced George Papadopoulos to a woman he identified as “Putin’s niece” — though she was not — to discuss arranging a meeting and “U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump.” Papadopoulos later disclosed the exchange to Trump’s national campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis, according to court documents.
The next month, Mifsud told Papadopoulos that Russia had “dirt” on Clinton, including “thousands of emails,” according to court documents.
Papadopoulos also reached out several times to former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to offer to connect the campaign with Russian officials. It is not clear whether Lewandowski ever engaged him, though Clovis appears to have encouraged Papadopoulos’s work, The Post has previously reported. A lawyer for Clovis has denied that, saying he was just being polite.
Rosalind S. Helderman contributed to this report.