ROME (Reuters) - In recent weeks, US Attorney General William Barr, with backing from President Donald Trump, has stepped up an inquiry into the origins of an FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump has complained his campaign was improperly targeted by US intelligence and law enforcement agencies to hamper his chances of winning. An investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded that Moscow interfered in the election to help Trump, but said there was not enough evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy with Russia.
As part of his inquiry, Barr has asked Australian and British justice officials for assistance and visited Italy twice, meeting intelligence agents in Rome on August 15 and September 27 to learn more about people mentioned in Mueller's report.
A central figure is Joseph Mifsud, a 59-year-old Maltese academic involved in law and diplomacy education program in London and Rome, who also had contacts with Russian officials and met with George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, on several occasions.
Following are some key questions about Mifsud, an obscure professor who has not been seen in public for nearly two years and who remains a focus of attention in Washington.