Konstantin Kilimnik’s PRISM-Accessible Communications

I doubt I’ll be done working my way through the new Paul Manafort and Rick Gates charges before such analysis would be overtaken by events (like the on-again flip of Gates). For now, Quinta Jurecic’s analysis is quite good.

Before I start, though, I want to go back and look at a detail from the Alex van der Zwaan plea materials (information, plea, statement of offense).

Best as we understand, former Skadden associate van der Zwaan pled guilty, with no forward cooperation requirement, for having hidden some communications he had with Rick Gates, Greg Craig (who must be the senior partner described), and Konstantin Kilimnik (believed to be Person A) in September 2016 about the aftermath of a report Skadden had done on the prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko.

In or about September 2016, VAN DER ZWAAN spoke with both Gates and Person A regarding the Report. In early September 2016, Gates called VAN DER ZWAAN and told him to contact Person A. After the call, Gates sent VAN DER ZWAAN documents including a preliminary criminal complaint in Ukraine via an electronic application called Viber. VAN DER ZWAAN then called Person A and discussed in Russian that formal criminal charges might be brought against a former Ukrainian Minister of Justice, Law Firm A, and Manafort. VAN DER ZWAAN recorded the call. VAN DER ZWAAN then called the senior partner on the Report at Law Firm A and partially recorded that call. Finally, VAN DER ZWAAN called Gates and recorded the call. VAN DER ZWAAN also took notes of the calls.

Prior to the November 3, 2017, interview, VAN DER ZWAAN did not produce to Law Firm A and deleted and otherwise did not produce emails he possessed that he understood had been requested by either the Special Counsel’s Office or Law Firm A, or both, including an email in Russian dated September 12, 2016 in which Person A asked VAN DER ZWAAN to contact Person A and to use an encrypted application.

One thing Van der Zwaan would have hidden was that he communicated with Gates after Paul Manafort had left the campaign, September 2016, as the Trump campaign was trying to clean up their taint from Manafort’s Ukraine stench.

Given the details in the information, it appears that in his November 3, 2017 interview, after he lied about when he had most recently talked with Kilimnik and Gates, he was asked about the email he didn’t turn over to Skadden and the government.

During the November 3, 2017, interview, VAN DER ZWAAN knowingly and intentionally falsely stated the following:

a. his last communication with Gates was in mid-August 2016, which consisted of an innocuous text message;

b. his last communication with a longtime business associate of Manafort and Gates in Ukraine (Person A) was in 2014, when he talked with Person A about Person A’s family; and

c. he did not know why Law Firm A had not produced to the Special Counsel’s Office a September 2016 e-mail between him and Person A.

This seems to suggest that before the end of Van der Zwaan’s first interview, they already confronted him with the fact that he was lying.

But that wasn’t his only interview. Van der Zwaan had a second interview (where he apparently added to his lies) on December 1. (NYCSouthpaw made this observation.)

I’ll probably return to the second interview.

For now, what I’m primarily interested in is that on November 3, 2017, the government had the email between Van der Zwaan and Kilimnik where the latter told the former to move their conversation to an (unnamed) encrypted app, and by the end of the interview confronted him with that fact.

I previously noted (with surprise) that Kilimnik used Gmail for his November 2017 correspondence with Paul Manafort helping to edit an op-ed to push back against his charges. If Manafort didn’t already know the Feds had obtained a bunch of Gmail (and — as  yesterday’s superseding indictment makes clear, his own firm’s email), a sealed December 8 declaration that was unsealed on January 3 would have made that clear.

It continues to surprise me that these thugs never thought about how accessible PRISM-based communications were to the Feds, unless Kilimnik has reason to be happy that his American correspondents will be seen by the FBI.

I guess it’s not just Hope Hicks who underestimates how accessible email is to criminal investigators.

18 replies
  1. KM says:

    “… unless Kilimnik has reason to be happy that his American correspondents will be seen by the FBI.”

    After multiple hints, we’re all — OK, well, at least I’m — curious to hear EW’s thoughts on what these reasons might be….

    • maybe ryan says:


      EW has been suggesting that Kilimnik wanted the correspondence to be discovered at least as far back as early January.  This may be one the posts with hints that you are referring to, but just in case you hadn’t seen it:


      In that post, she did suggest some reasons why Kilimnik (and Deripaska) might want the correspondence to be found.

      • KM says:

        Thanks, mR.  Yeah, that post was one of the things I was referring to, but over the past few days EW has also been dropping lots of hints on Twitter too.

        Was just wondering if recent events had prompted EW to additional thoughts beyond, or to round out, the two reasons mentioned in that post.  The first one (arrogance) isn’t actually a reason for Kilimnik/Deripaska to “want this to be discovered”, but rather for not much fearing the consequences of discovery (should it come to pass).  And the second reason — Deripaska being happy to expose Manafort for what he is — rather raises more questions than it answers.

  2. Galactus-36215 says:

    @Bmaz and Desider

    “According to the special prosecutor, during the period in which Manafort and Gates allegedly received large amounts of money from their work in Ukraine, they laundered money by bringing it into the United States disguised as corporate loans. In fact, these “loans” came from offshore corporations that they themselves controlled, the indictment alleges. This allowed them to move money into the United States without reporting it as income. ”

    The above section is from Marcy’s link regarding Quinta’s analysis. I’ve responded to you at the other story regarding Kushner’s dealings with the financing of 666. Read that in conjunction with this post.

    If Kushner is laundering and has hidden bank accounts in the same manner as Manafort and Gates, the above scenario could help him with financing 666 property. But as other articles have pointed out, he’s indebted for ~$1.8B.(that’s Billion, with a B) We don’t know how many hidden bank accounts Kushner has, but we do know he needs to refinance and most banks won’t finance a property that is underwater as 666 apparently is. So, where will the additional cash come from? Probably his own stash of undisclosed foreign banks. Remember, the FBAR process is voluntary. You simply file the form. It’s generally just a listing of bank names, addresses, account numbers and the maximum value during the year and the current value. But if you’re laundering money, the best way to hide it is simply just never report it to begin with. ;)

    So, Kushner can make some bucks by participating or using cash from his loans temporarily via the Rosneft deal, funnel it into his foreign banks and issue loans to himself to refinance 666. The amount of Rosneft share financing that is unknown was at $2.2B (yes, that’s Billion with a B). And most of that was resold to the Chinese, or at least that was the plan.

    Here is the link to the Chinese resale.


    • harpie says:

      Marcy just tweeted:
      [quote] Still on the road but worth noting that Gates pleads to ConFraudUS. That’s going to end up being the big conspiracy when we’re done. (AKA “collusion”). 11:01 AM – 23 Feb 2018 [2:01pm ET] [end quote]

  3. Rapier says:

    It isn’t of much importance but I can’t figure out what the “report Skadden had done on the prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko” was. Did I miss something here that references it?

    She is our gal in Kiev and lead the aborted Orange Revolution there. She charmingly said she wanted to nuke all the ethnic Russians in rump republics in the East. That was after she was let out of prison where we can presume her extreme Ukrainian nationalism went off the charts. All neither there nor there, except why was she or a report on her part of this story.

    Any links welcome.

  4. Rapier says:

    Characterization of Yanukovych  as “pro Russian” is a casual and typical use of terms of propaganda.  Not that he was a good guy.

    My rule of thumb is that there are no good guys, with  power, in the Bloodlands.

  5. TJ says:

    IANAL but could all these various ConFraudUS charges be used as RICO predicates in a grand daddy racketeering indictment against the Trump Organization and/or campaign rather than the pres himself?

    That would really hit Trump where it hurts. Plus if it all precedes the inauguration Trump and his lawyers can’t claim executive privilege…

      • Desider says:

        But Louise Mensch sez…

        Looking at your list I see 2 areas:
        section 1956 (relating to the laundering of monetary instruments)
        section 1957 (relating to engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity)

        But as the rest of Ken’s article notes, it includes a plaintiff suffering from this and how (not society at large), and an agent who isn’t the criminal org itself. It’s not obvious why targeting Trump and Kushner and Manafort directly wouldn’t be much much simpler, while claims that the RNC or related is committing RICO doesn’t seem to fit any of the many listed crimes in any significant way.

  6. pdaly says:

    Maybe by going “public” via gmail, Kilimnik could burn Manafort and save any payout money promised to Manafort–especially if it was looking as if Manafort was never going to make good on his own overdue $millions to Kilimnik’s Russian friends.

  7. pdaly says:

    Is this the specific reason why September 2016 (or ‘communication with Gates and Person A after August 2016’) was specified in Alex van der Zwaan’s plea?
    Manafort left the Trump campaign under a cloud of suspicion (August 2016). In September 2016, the DOJ started asking FARA-related questions to Gates and Manafort. They said they were not in violation of FARA, but Van der Zwaan’s 2016 recordings prove Gates lied to the DOJ.
    In the 2/23/18 Superseding Criminal Information about Gates, Paragraph 25 (page 18):
    “In September 2016, after numerous recent press reports concerning Manafort, the Department of Justice informed Manafort, GATES, and DMI that it sought to determine whether they had acted as agents of a foreign principal under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), without registering. In November 2016 and February 2017, Manafort, GATES, and DMI caused false and misleading letters to be submitted to the Department of Justice, which mirrored the false cover story set out above.”
    The letters containing false statements were pre-approved by both Gates and Manafort prior to being submitted to the DOJ.
    How did Alex van der Zwaan know to lie about that specific date?
    Why does Zwaan lie again in his second interview with Mueller’s team?
    Did Zwaan’s lies attempt to shield Manafort/Gates but also to benefit himself (or his father-in-law) some how?

    Similarly, it is reported Gates lying to Mueller’s team as recently as his February 2018 plea deal negotiations. What? 
    All this lying so late in the game!

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