When Horowitz found no evidence that Mifsud “ever acted as an FBI [confidential human source],” pundits saw this as devastating to the Trumpian “conspiracy theory” that the FBI investigation was a setup. Maybe, but the original conspiracy theory was that Mifsud was a Russian agent, and Horowitz, like Robert Mueller before him, found no evidence of this, either.

The Mifsud story was always bizarre. The professor introduced Papadopoulos, who’d been with the Trump campaign for about 10 minutes at that point, to a “beautiful” Russian woman he said was Vladimir Putin’s niece. Putin doesn’t have a niece. The woman, Olga Polonskaya, worked for a Rome wine company. Mifsud denied any foreknowledge of the DNC hack or making “any offer” to the Trump campaign, while Papadopoulos denied speaking about Russia at all to Downer, who told still a different story from the other two.

If Mifsud is not a Russian agent, the absurdity factor of all this multiplies: A years-long counterintelligence investigation will have been based on a botched game of telephone between three Westerners of varying degrees of shadiness, with no Russian-intelligence link ever found. It’s like something out of a Graham Greene novel. The only thing missing is Papadopoulos handing Downer a barroom-napkin sketch of a giant vacuum cleaner.