Bill Barr was in Rome to hear a secret tape from the Maltese professor who kicked off the Russia investigation: report
Attorney General William Barr (CBS News)

On Tuesday, The Daily Beast's Barbie Latza Nadeau reported that one of the primary purposes for Attorney General William Barr's mysterious trip to Italy with U.S. Attorney John Durham was to hear a secret tape from Joseph Mifsud, the shadowy Maltese professor whose actions helped to trigger the Russia investigation.

"The Daily Beast has learned that Barr and Durham were especially interested in what the Italian secret service knew about Joseph Mifsud, the erstwhile professor from Malta who had allegedly promised then candidate Donald Trump’s campaign aide George Papadopoulos he could deliver Russian 'dirt' on Hillary Clinton," wrote Nadeau. "The Italian Justice Ministry public records show that Mifsud had applied for police protection in Italy after disappearing from Link University where he worked and, in doing so, had given a taped deposition to explain just why people might want to harm him. "

"A source in the Italian Ministry of Justice, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Daily Beast that Barr and Durham were played the tape," continued Nadeau. "A second source within the Italian government also confirmed to The Daily Beast that Barr and Durham were shown other evidence the Italians had on Mifsud."

Papadopoulos' admission to an Australian diplomat about his conversations with Mifsud about Russian interference in the 2016 election was a key reason for the FBI opening the investigation in the first place. That investigation was later taken over by former special counsel Robert Mueller, who did not find conclusive evidence Trump knowingly conspired with Russian officials, but found evidence he was eager to accept their help — and that he may have obstructed justice 10 times to cover it up.

Barr has been engaged in an investigation, at Trump's insistence, into the origins of the Russia investigation, which Republicans have baselessly claimed was improper.