On or around August 2, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates meet with Russian intelligence agent Konstantin Kilimnik at a cigar club in Manhattan. There, they give Kilimnik the Trump campaign’s internal polling data and discuss campaign strategies for battleground states.
According to the Mueller report, the passing of internal campaign data to Kilimnik began months ago. This would place the collusion sometime between March 1 — about the time Manafort began contact with the campaign — and the first week of June. We’ll add a new post in the Trump File timeline when we can nail down an approximate date.
[On August 2], they also discussed the status of the Trump Campaign and Manafort’s strategy for winning Democratic votes in Midwestern states. Months before that meeting, Manafort had caused internal polling data to be shared with Kilimnik, and the sharing continued for some period of time after their August meeting… Manafort expected Kilimnik to share that information with others in Ukraine and with Deripaska. Gates periodically sent such polling data to Kilimnik during the campaign.The Mueller Report
A plane owned by Oleg Deripaska, referred to in the excerpt above, lands in New Jersey just hours after the meeting with Kilimnik. Deripaska and his companies (including one tied to Republican senators) act as proxies for Vladimir Putin’s influence operations in the US. In past years, Deripaska has done business with Manafort and with Trump-Epstein associate Leon Black.
The Mueller report does not identify Kilimnik as a Russian intelligence agent, but a 2020 Senate intelligence report does. In 2021, the Biden administration backs up the Senate subcommittee’s findings.
During the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, Kilimnik provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy. Additionally, Kilimnik sought to promote the narrative that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In 2018, Kilimnik was indicted on charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice regarding unregistered lobbying work. Kilimnik has also sought to assist designated former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych. At Yanukovych’s direction, Kilimnik sought to institute a plan that would return Yanukovych to power in Ukraine.U.S. Dept. of the Treasury
Today’s meeting is one of at least two meetings between Manafort and Kilimnik during the Trump campaign. Kilimnik is also believed to be directly tied to the GRU’s email hacking operation. In 2020, the relationship between Manafort and Kilimnik is considered “the single most direct tie between senior Trump campaign officials and the Russian intelligence services.”
Manafort and Gates were associates before the Trump campaign. During the campaign, he serves as Manafort’s deputy. He continues to work for the Trump campaign under Steve Bannon when Manafort is forced to resign.
Kilimnik is a longtime associate of Paul Manafort and worked with him on pro-Russia lobbying efforts in Ukraine. A 2017 report by The Washington Post refers to Kilimnik as “a Kiev-based employee of [Manafort’s] international political consulting practice.”
Photo: Olivier Douliery/Sipa