Maybe Mifsud was telling the truth. After all, the evidence to the contrary is supplied by someone who has done (a very little) time in jail for telling federal officials falsehoods. Which would at least explain why the special counsel did so little to pursue the professor. Having wrung a confession out of Papadopoulos for false statements about Mifsud, the special counsel’s team may have anticipated the difficulty they would face basing accusations against Mifsud on Papadopoulos’ say-so.

But it is another hypothesis altogether that is gaining traction with Republican lawmakers: the notion that the professor was indeed an intelligence asset, just not for Russia. “Joseph Mifsud is the key figure in the FBI’s opening of the official investigation of the Trump campaign, yet no one knows who he was working for,” Devin Nunes tells RealClearInvestigations.

Even though Mifsud is portrayed as the original contact between Russia and the Trump campaign, and key to the alleged reason the FBI took the rare and controversial step of opening a counterintelligence probe against a presidential campaign, Nunes says the FBI and the special counsel were strangely blasé about the professor. “Mifsud has contacts throughout western governments, none of whom seem concerned that they’ve been compromised by a Russian agent.”