Manafort Met With a Russian Agent During His Work on Trump’s Campaign

One month ago, Robert Mueller’s team released a fairly heavily redacted memo outlining the fact that Paul Manafort had violated his plea agreement by lying to investigators. Much of the redacted information involved lies Manafort told about his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnick, who worked for him in Ukraine and has been identified by the FBI as a Russian agent.

On Tuesday, Manafort’s lawyers released their response to those accusations and, due to some errors in redaction, at least two of the lies their client told have been made public.

Paul Manafort shared 2016 presidential campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, a former employee whom the FBI has said has ties to Russian intelligence, according to a court filing from his defense attorneys.

The apparently inadvertent revelation indicates a pathway by which the Russians could have had access to Trump campaign data…

The special counsel alleged Manafort “lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign,” according to the unredacted filing, and discussed Ukrainian politics with Kilimnik during that time.

“Manafort ‘conceded’ that he discussed or may have discussed a Ukraine peace plan with Mr. Kilimnik on more than one occasion,” his attorneys quote the special counsel as saying, and “’acknowledged’ that he and Mr. Kilimnik met while they were both in Madrid.”

Reminiscent of the charges in the Steele dossier about Cohen in Prague, meeting with a Russian agent in Madrid comes pretty close to evidence of a conspiracy that was being managed by Trump’s then campaign chairman. Keep in the mind that, once again, a Trump associate lied about a meeting with a Russian.

According to his lawyers, Manafort shared polling data about the 2016 presidential race with Kilimnik. That begs the question of why such information would be of interest to a Russian agent whose superiors were actively working on influencing the election.

Manafort also conceded that he discussed a Ukraine peace plan with Kilimnick. This would obviously be the one he’s referring to:

A week before Michael T. Flynn resigned as national security adviser, a sealed proposal was hand-delivered to his office, outlining a way for President Trump to lift sanctions against Russia.

Mr. Flynn is gone, having been caught lying about his own discussion of sanctions with the Russian ambassador. But the proposal, a peace plan for Ukraine and Russia, remains, along with those pushing it: Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, who delivered the document; Felix H. Sater, a business associate who helped Mr. Trump scout deals in Russia; and a Ukrainian lawmaker trying to rise in a political opposition movement shaped in part by Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort…

The amateur diplomats say their goal is simply to help settle a grueling, three-year conflict that has cost 10,000 lives. “Who doesn’t want to help bring about peace?” Mr. Cohen asked.

But the proposal contains more than just a peace plan. Andrii V. Artemenko, the Ukrainian lawmaker, who sees himself as a Trump-style leader of a future Ukraine, claims to have evidence — “names of companies, wire transfers” — showing corruption by the Ukrainian president, Petro O. Poroshenko, that could help oust him. And Mr. Artemenko said he had received encouragement for his plans from top aides to Mr. Putin.

What we have is a meeting in Madrid between Trump’s campaign manager and a Russian agent in which the discussion included polling data on the U.S. presidential race as well as a plan cooked up by Sater and Artemenko for the Ukrainian president to be blackmailed into resigning, allowing President Trump to lift sanctions against Russia.

Stay tuned as Robert Mueller continues to connect the dots in the story about a conspiracy between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to influence a presidential election.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.