In a previously undisclosed event, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort met with an associate of his from the Ukraine who is suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence in late 2016. This meeting came just a couple of weeks before Manafort resigned from the Trump campaign over concerns about his own ties to Russia.
Konstantin Kilimnik worked in the Ukraine with Manafort for years, but accounts differ over whether or not he is connected to Russian intelligence. He graduated from a Russian school known as a training ground for Russian spies, and went on, apparently, to do translation work for the Russian military intelligence services.
Following his work for the Russian military, he moved back to his native Ukraine and began working as a political operative there. Neither U.S. authorities or Ukrainian authorities would confirm charges against Kilimnik of him being a secret Russian operative.
It’s a member of a Ukrainian political party named Volodymyr Ariev who requested late last year that Ukraine’s top prosecutor investigate whether or not Kilimnik had ties to Russian intelligence services. In March 2017, the prosecutor’s office told POLITICO that Kilimnik was “not being processed now as a witness, suspect or accused.” They did not respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post, which broke the story about the previously undisclosed late 2016 meeting between Manafort and Kilimnik.
Kilimnik has admitted to the meeting reported on by The Washington Post, along with another meeting earlier in the year. In a statement provided to The Washington Post, Kilimnik asserted both that he has no ties to Russian intelligence services and that his meetings with Manafort were only within the context of their prior business together.
Kilimnik does say that his meetings with Manafort included discussions “related to the perception of the U.S. presidential campaign in Ukraine.”
Kilimnik is of interest both to congressional investigators and to federal investigators. His name appears on a subpoena related to Paul Manafort’s overseas business activities. The subpoena, issued by a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia, does not specify whether the requested information relates to the investigation into whether or not the Trump camp colluded with Russia or something else.
Manafort’s business activities have come under scrutiny ever since the revelations about alleged secret payments from the pro-Russia, formerly ruling Ukrainian political party that led to his departure from the Trump campaign.
It’s been reported that the office of Special Counsel for the Russia investigation Robert Mueller has taken over federal inquires into Manafort’s business activities.
Manafort, for his part, has — through a spokesperson — denied any wrongdoing in having met with the suspected Russian intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik in late 2016.
Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni told the press:
‘We’re confident that serious officials will come to the conclusion that Paul’s campaign conduct and interaction with Konstantin during that time was perfectly permissible and not in furtherance of some conspiracy.’
Manafort is said to have discussed the hack of the DNC with Kilimnik during his August 2016 dinner with him at the Grand Havana Room in New York City. Maloni, however, asserts that such discussions were innocent and even reasonable in light of how prominent the story of the hack was in the news.
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