John Light

John is TPM‘s Prime editor. His writing has also appeared at The Atlantic, Mother Jones, Salon, Slate, UN Dispatch, Vox, Worth, and Al Jazeera, and has been broadcast on Public Radio International. Before joining TPM, John was a producer for Bill Moyers and WNYC, and worked as a news writer for Grist. He grew up in New Jersey, studied history and film at Oberlin College, and got his master‘s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Articles by John

Hello Prime members and welcome to the weekend. Somewhat surprisingly, we got through the week without major news from Robert Mueller. Here’s what happened this week in Prime.

  • A conversation with an anonymous Democratic House Rep. who went from wanting leadership change to backing Pelosi.
  • As Democrats gain oversight powers, they’ll have to focus on the biggest corruption and threats to the republic first, Josh Marshall writes — and with so much on the table, that will be no easy task.
  • The mysterious Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud is a key figure in the Russia probe but has been hiding for more than a year. Now he may emerge to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
  • We learned Friday that Julian Assange has been charged — and we learned it before the government was ready for us to. Here’s how it happened.
  • The leading contender to become Trump’s new chief of staff is a swamp creature through and through.
  • We finally have a nominee for ambassador to South Africa after a 24-month vacancy: A Palm Beach-based handbag designer — and Mar-a-Lago member — with no diplomatic experience.
  • Mueller’s team is getting fed up with Paul Manafort’s level of cooperation, Allegra Kirkland writes, with sources telling ABC News that they’re “not getting what they want” from Trump’s former campaign chairman.

The midterms are over and the White House seems to be on edge. Russia probe-related developments — specifically, indictments — tend to come on Friday. And so we’re all waiting to see if Mueller does something today.

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Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor who played a central role in the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia, disappeared more than a year ago, in November 2017, after reporters identified him as the unnamed individual referred to only as “the professor” in special counsel Mueller’s indictment of George Papadopoulous. But now, according to reports, he may testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

A quick refresher: During the 2016 campaign, Mifsud allegedly spent months trying to connect Papadopoulous with Russian officials, and offered to provide the Trump campaign with “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Papadopoulous then drunkenly bragged about this “dirt” to an Australian diplomat, who shared the information with U.S. authorities, leading to the beginning of an FBI investigation into the Trump campaign.

Once he was identified, Mifsud did an interview with an Italian news outlet in Rome on Oct. 31, 2017, then disappeared. His phone number went dead, a university where he taught deleted his biography, and neither reporters nor Italian authorities nor his 31-year-old fiancé could find him. In a court filing related to its lawsuit against the Trump campaign, Russia, and a slew of other co-defendents, lawyers for the Democratic National Committee speculated that Mifsud, one of the co-defendents, might be “deceased.”

Apparently not. Reporters for Buzzfeed and The Atlantic write today that a lawyer who says he is representing Mifsud is negotiating for the professor to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Mifsud’s purported attorney, Stephan Roh, wouldn’t give further details, according to Buzzfeed:

Asked if a date for the testimony had been set, whether Mifsud would be travelling to the US in person to testify, and if any talks with Senate officials to schedule a testimony had already taken place, Roh replied, “we will not comment or answer further questions of journalists until the Senate hearing takes place — unless necessary and in the interest of Prof. Mifsud.”

But it seems like the professor is, at the very least, alive, and looking to tell his side of the story. Roh claimed to have spoken to his client from Italy and Malta over the last year, and, last month, provided the Associated Press with a photo of Mifsud taken in Roh’s Zurich office in May.

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We’re continuing to learn more about Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker as he, reportedly, weights whether to recuse himself. Here’s more on that and on other stories we’re following.

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Hello Prime subscribers, and welcome to the end of a week that felt hundreds of days long. The Democrats have retaken the U.S. House of Representatives and several state legislatures; meanwhile, we have a new acting attorney general.

Usually, in these end-of-week Prime roundups I give you nearly every Prime piece we published. This week had so much news, some of those (pre-election predictions, for instance) are no longer fresh. Here’s what is: