In August 2016 Manafort Discussed DNC Cyberattack With a Suspected Russian Spy
This was just two weeks before he was fired under a cloud of smoke over Russia-and course, as he exited stage left he received $13 million dollars in loans from businesses with Trump ties.
As usual, Manafort’s lawyer is trying to tell us the ‘nothing to see here’ story.
Don't all leading US political consultants have a GRU handler — sorry, "translator"?https://t.co/UW3sjvGnPq
— John Schindler (@20committee) June 19, 2017
Still, try as Manafort and his lawyers may try, it’s hard to make this seem like no big deal:
“In August, as tension mounted over Russia’s role in the U.S. presidential race, Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, sat down to dinner with a business associate from Ukraine who once served in the Russian army.”
“Konstantin Kilimnik, who learned English at a military school that some experts consider a training ground for Russian spies, had helped run the Ukraine office for Manafort’s international political consulting practice for 10 years.”
There is some debate whether or not Kilimnik is from Russian intelligence. There is no debate though about the topic of their conversation:
“Kilimnik said his meetings with Manafort were “private visits” that were “in no way related to politics or the presidential campaign in the U.S.” He said he did not meet with Trump or other campaign staff members. However, he said their contacts included discussions “related to the perception of the U.S. presidential campaign in Ukraine.”
“Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said that Kilimnik was a “longtime business associate” who would have naturally been in touch with Manafort. Manafort told Politico, which first reported his relationship with Kilimnik, that his conversations included discussions about the cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee and the release of its emails.”
“Even Orwell might have to be impressed by this level of doublethink: the meetings were ‘private visits’ that were in no way related to the presidential campaign in the U.S. other than how this presential campaign effected perceptions in Ukraine.”
Well that clears that up then. They discussed the campaign but from a Ukrainian rather than American perspective. Whatever that means.
Then in the next paragraph they admit that this discussion of the U.S. presidential campaign but from the Ukrainian perspective touched on the cyberattack on the DNC.
See that? Clearly the fact that Manafort discussed the cyberattacks on the DNC and the leaked emails with a Ukrainian businessmen who insists he’s not from Russian intelligence in no way gives any credence to the notion that the Trump campaign coordinated with this cyberattack from Russian intelligence.
Now if they had discussed the DNC hacks from an American perspective, that would be different.
Some are vouching for Kilimnik:
“He’s not working for the Russians,” said a foreign policy expert close to Republicans who was working in Ukraine at the time. “If anything, he’s working for us.”
If that’s true, then he’s on the other side of Ukrainian politics than Manafort-he along with Roger Stone, have served Russian interests in his political activities in Ukraine.
So what kind of consulting, did Kilimnik provide Manafort?
“Kilimnik’s role for Manafort grew over time. Beyond his work as a translator, Kilimnik would “help Manafort understand the political context and why people were doing what they were doing,” Patten said.”
What was the political context he took out of the DNC hacks? Certainly we need to know what was said in this purely innocent conversation about the weather-and the cyberattacks on the DNC-but only in the Ukrainian context.
As for the debate over whether or not Kilimnik is in Russian intelligence, here’s the defense:
He said the GRU, the military intelligence service that U.S. officials have linked to the 2016 cyberattacks, did not recruit from his language academy.
“No one ever spoke to me ever about doing any intelligence work — neither Russians or Ukrainians or any other foreign country,” he said.
Many, however, dispute his characterization of his language academy. For the prosecution:
“Some experts disputed Kilimnik’s description of the Moscow academy.”
“Stephen Blank, a Russia expert at the American Foreign Policy Council, a Washington think tank, and a longtime former instructor at the U.S. Army War College, called the institute a “breeding ground” for intelligence officers.”
“Mark Galeotti, a Russia security specialist at the Institute of International Relations, a Prague-based foreign policy think tank, said the school is one of the “favored recruiting grounds” of the GRU.”
“In 1995, amid uncertainty in the post-Soviet economy, Kilimnik said he needed money and took a job as a translator for the International Republican Institute, a pro-democracy group affiliated with the U.S. Republican Party.”
He clearly has long ties to the Republican party.
“At the time, Kilimnik openly discussed his work in the Russian army, said Phil Griffin, a political consultant who hired him at the IRI. “He was completely upfront about his past work with Russian military intelligence,” Griffin said. “It was no big deal.”
“Julia Sibley, a spokeswoman for the IRI, confirmed that Kilimnik worked for the organization a decade ago but declined to provide additional information.”
“In 2005, Griffin, who had left Moscow to work for Manafort in Ukraine, invited Kilimnik to join him there, according to both men.”
“Kilimnik said he has worked largely in Ukraine ever since, although he declined to say whether he has become a Ukrainian citizen.”
So Manafort and Kilimnik became associates in 2005-right around the time Manafort received millions of dollars to help Putin improve his image internationally.
“A Russian billionaire paid former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort millions of dollars to boost the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Associated Press reports. The new allegations arise months after Manafort resigned from the campaign amid concerns over his work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.”
“According to documents that we’ve reviewed, Paul Manafort secretly worked for a Russian oligarch who wanted him to promote Russian interests,” the AP’s Chad Day tells NPR’s Rachel Martin. “And in particular, he wrote a memo that outlined this kind of vast plan for him to promote Russian interests in the former Soviet republics — and also to specifically benefit the Putin government.”
Around the same time Manafort and Kilimnik became buddies. And here’s the cherry on top:
“The financial arrangement dates to at least 2006, when Manafort signed a $10 million yearly contract with Russian aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally, Day says. Their business relationship lasted through at least 2009, according to Day’s story for the AP.”
Uhhhh. Back to the Washington Post:
“People familiar with Kilimnik’s work in Ukraine for Manafort say his assignments included meeting with powerful Ukrainian politicians and serving as a liaison to Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, who is close to Putin and did business with Manafort.”
So it’s pretty hard not to conclude that Kilimnik’s suddenly becoming Manafort’s buddy was not related to the business Manafort was being paid millions of dollars for on Putin’s behalf-via Deripaska.
Which also puts the claim that Kilimnik works on behalf of Ukraine rather than Russia into deep doubt.
There’s an old saying about burying the lede. But these days it’s tough as there are so many ledes.
P.S. So the Gravis poll against Peter King NY2 and it has good news-almost too good to believe.
In my March poll I trailed King by 11 and thought that was very good news. Now Gravis has me up by 10? Still, the moment of truth is next week when Gravis writes up the press release.
I can use any help I can get at this point-volunteers or supporters who live in NY 2. Donations whatever your zip code. These days we can’t just support a local Dem we need a Dem Congress. Which is why I’ve donated few hundred to Jon Ossoff.
Please donate to help me in my part of the effort to fight for a Dem House-$5 or $10 can do so much.
If you feel that you can’t I, of course, understand-who is rich these days? But please do me one favor: ask yourself privately, mentally, if you really can’t spare $5 dollars. If you can honestly say you can’t, no worries.
We can have a Dem Congress, we must have a Dem Cogress, and we will.
Thank you. We must have a Dem House. And so, we will.