Paul Manafort’s Ongoing Conspiracy with Suspected Russian Agent Konstantin Kilimnik

Update: The NYT had it correct the first time. They got — badly — played.

Because the NYT corrected an error (noting that Paul Manafort instructed Konstantin Kilimnik to pass on Trump polling data to pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarchs Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov, not Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska), the usual suspects are claiming that the really damning disclosures revealed by Paul Manafort’s filing of the other day don’t yet prove Trump’s campaign manager conspired with Russia.

Manafort already pled guilty to conspiring with Russian Konstantin Kilimnik

I saw claims as recently as the other day that no Trump associate has been charged or pled guilty to conspiring with a Russian. That’s false.

As part of his plea agreement in September, Manafort pled guilty to conspiring with Kilimnik, a Russian citizen, to witness tamper.  Admittedly, this particular conspiracy took place in 2018, not 2016, and it served not to tamper with the 2016 election, but to hide the ways in which Manafort kept secret that he was an agent of Ukraine spending millions to influence US policy. But, as Mueller has described it, Manafort committed a series of crimes designed to hide his ongoing ties to Russian-backed Ukrainian oligarchs after being fired from the Trump campaign in significant part to sustain lies he and Rick Gates told while still working for Donald Trump.

In other words, one purpose of his conspiracy with Kilimnik was to hide the fact that Trump’s campaign manager — who, in spite of being broke, worked for “free” throughout the campaign — had been a paid agent of Ukraine.

The Russian Manafort conspired with, Konstantin Kilimnik is suspected of ties to the same agency that hacked the DNC

Past Mueller filings have made it clear that Kilimnik is suspected to have ties to a Russian intelligence agency. The FBI thinks so.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agents assisting the Special Counsel’s Office assess that [Kilimnik] has ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016

And Rick Gates knew of those ties.

During his first interview with the Special Counsel’s Office, [Alex] van der Zwaan admitted that he knew of that connection, stating that Gates told him [Kilimnik] was a former Russian Intelligence Officer with the GRU.

The GRU, of course, is the Russian intelligence agency that hacked the Democrats in 2016. So Manafort has pled to conspiring not just with any Russian, but a Russian believed to have ties with the agency that hacked the DNC.

Akhmetov was named — in the same interview as Deripaska — in the affidavit for a 2017 probable cause search warrant targeting Manafort

Akhmetov, one of the oligarchs with whom NYT’s correction say Manafort did share data, was described in the probable cause warrant the FBI used to raid Manafort’s condo in July 2017. Indeed, Manafort described working for both Akhmetov and Deripaska in the same period he was supporting Viktor Yanukoych.

This suggests it’s difficult to separate Manafort’s historical criminal behavior involving Akhmetov from that involving Deripaska. And Kilimnik was involved in both.

Akhmetov and Lyovochkin were paying Manafort while he was working for Trump for “free”

As part of Manafort’s spox’s “clarifications” about the disclosures made clear in the redacted filing, he admitted that a $2.4 million payment Manafort anticipated — in an August 2016 email to his accountant — that he would receive in November was from Akhmetov and Lyovochkin. While that payment is understood to be debts owed for past work, his decision to share campaign data with the oligarchs seems to have been tied to ensuring he did get that payment.

If that’s right, it suggests that that $2.4 million payment, at a time when Manafort was broke but nevertheless working for “free,” had some tie to his work on the campaign.

Lyovochkin made an illegal donation to Donald Trump’s inauguration fund

Another Kilimnik business partner, Sam Patten, pled guilty (in part) to laundering a $50,000 donation to Trump’s inauguration fund for tickets to his inauguration.

To circumvent the foreign donation restriction, PATTEN, with the knowledge of Foreigner A, solicited a United States citizen to act as a “straw” purchaser so that he could conceal from the [Presidential Inauguration Committee] that the tickets for the inauguration were being paid for from a foreign source. The straw purchaser paid $50,000 for four inauguration tickets. The straw purchaser paid that sum one day after receiving from [Begemot Ventures] a check signed by PATTEN in the sum of $50,000. In turn, [Lyovochkin] had paid [Begemot] for the tickets though a Cypriot account. [Kilimnik and Lyovochkin] another Ukrainian, and PATTEN were allocated the four inauguration tickets. Thereafter, PATTEN attended a PIC event in Washington, D.C. with [Lyovochkin].

Thus, in addition to paying Trump’s campaign manager during the campaign, Lyovochkin made an illegal donation to Trump’s inauguration (and remember, there are outstanding questions about where all the inauguration funds went).

Manafort discussed Ukraine every time he spoke with Kilimnik during the campaign; those discussions included a Russian-friendly “peace plan”

Among the other lies Manafort told when he was supposed to be cooperating with Mueller pertained to his repeated conversations with Kilimnik. And while Manafort tried to minimize the persistence with which they discussed such things, suggesting he may have discussed a Ukraine peace plan more than once.

After being shown documents, Mr. Manafort “conceded” that he discussed or may have discussed a Ukraine peace plan with Mr. Kilimnik on more than one occasion

But Mueller maintains they have detailed descriptions showing the peace plan came up “at each” meeting they had, which suggests it was a key part of why the Russians and Ukrainians in touch with Manafort through Kilimnik were in touch with him.

And, again, both these lies and Manafort’s lies in 2018 and Manafort’s lies in 2016 and 2017 were all intended to hide these ongoing relationships, in significant part to hide Trump’s campaign ties to all of this.

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

41 replies
    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Dilanian is a national security / intel reporter. He’s not a horserace reporter.

      Those retweets of Parscale wanking in public about his superior polling data? I wonder…

  1. Trip says:

    There are plenty of direct connections. Still it was a crappy correction they had to make. I mean, how do you get that part wrong?

      • oldoilfieldhand says:

        My gut tells me this was deliberately supplied misinformation, requiring a retraction following sensational national coverage, conveying the message that there is no Russian “collusion” after all, fomenting further speculation that the “Fake News” and “Deep State” are trying to defame the honorable and totally uninvolved Presindebt. Add one seemingly insignificant, inaccurate detail and voila (shades of dossier), virtuously dismiss the facts that form the basis for impeachment.

        • Avattoir says:

          OT on the subject of the post, but while we’re consulting our intestines anyway, I’m having trouble dismissing my gut growling over this notion:

          That this Toadal wall bullshit is at least partly justified – AT LEAST – for pretty much the same reason as the previous Toadal bullshit tsunami over the supposedly renegotiating NAFTA in, when, comparing old NAFTA [which remains in force unless & until ratified by the respective legislatures, which I believe has not happened anywhere] to new NOTNAFTA, was supposedly justified, when as a matter of immediately practical efficacy the only clearly identifiable substantive Imma say “advantage to the US” was to wipe the deal clean of the enforceable US commitments to favor alumninum & steel products produced by our old NAFTA partners [i.e. Canada].

          So yesterday the Manooch put in a laughably nominal appearance before the House on the lifting of the sanctions on Rusal & another one of Deripaska’s companies, based largely on accompanying big booming sounds of lobby drums paid for by Rusal and Deripaska’s HOLDING company FCOL, which lobbying – if all that isn’t already enough to boil your innerds – is being critically lead by highly arguably single most corrupt former U.S. Senator still living, David Vitter.
          I don’t know why then that all this Wall fooferah is striking me so strongly as DISTRACTION from the outrage of Trump working to pay off Paulie Rugs’ creditor (and, if so, justify the deposit of some fortune in a numbered account located in some foreign-located dubious financial institution).

          If I’m taking all this wrong, I trust someone here will talk me down.

        • bmaz says:

          Nope, stay on that, er, wall, I will not talk you down. The “Wall” and the shutdown over it, are indeed diversionary sideshows. But dangerous ones to the health of the country and the balance of Constitutional powers.

    • CaliLawyer says:

      I can only think that Derispaska was supposed to be the ultimate beneficiary, but they couldn’t sufficiently substantiate that and had to walk it back. Embarrassing reporting, but might ultimately turn out to be true. No longer surprised at NYT sloppiness.

      • NorskieFlamethrower says:

        I wonder if a whole bunch of the NYT’s “sloppy” reporting (both acknowledged and unacknowledged) is intensional. I don’t think they give even a small s**t whether they get called out after the fact.

        • Peterr says:

          The Times is Pulitzer hunting on the Russian meddling story, and getting this wrong is definitely something they did not want to do.

          Down south, the folks at the WaPo are laughing their heads off over the “steps-on-rake”move by the Times, even as the Posties acknowledge that they dodged a bullet here in the Pulitzer competition.

        • BobCon says:

          I have to think the odds are still 50-50 that Haberman and Schmidt win a Pulitzer, considering how much they’re like the Emmys and Grammys and are slanted toward the power players in the industry. And if insider resentment towards the heavy handed sycophancy at the Times ends up denying H&S the Pulitzer, there will almost certainly be a consolation Pulitzer awarded to the Times for other Trump reporting.

          In the same way that most Oscar voters only watch half of the performances they are voting on, and get swayed by the most superficial considerations, most Pulitizer voters have no idea what’s going on with Trump-Russia. They see that the Times has a bunch of exclusives and scoops, and don’t bother to figure out whether the reporting is actually valid.

          And the editors at the Times know this. They employ reporters who seek out access and write accordingly. They know how to win the prizes, and unfortunately, accuracy is not a major consideration.

  2. Frank Probst says:

    @Willis Warren
    “Mueller is almost done” is this decade’s “the next six months in Afghanistan/Iraq will be critical”. I’m not sure if I believe it at all, but if there’s a grain of truth to it, it could be that most of the major leads have been chased down by the FBI, so the investigatory part of his mandate is winding down, but there are still several trials in the works, even if there aren’t any sealed indictments. That would mean that he’s almost done with the things for which he needs full-time FBI agents, and that could be where the story is coming from (law enforcement people related to the assignments of FBI agents). But he’s still going to need his team of lawyers (who haven’t leaked) for the upcoming trials. Just my WAG.

    • Jockobadger says:

      @Frank Probst

      “….even if there aren’t any sealed indictments.”   I hope this isn’t a hopelessly dumb question, but I was under the impression that there are a bunch of sealed indictments already?  Do we know if there are any?  Maybe even for Uday and bro? (I guess that would be rank speculation.)  I think I generally understand the need for all this secrecy, means, methods, personnel, etc., but dang it’s frustrating.  Love EW.  Thanks   

    • William Bennett says:

      The Giuliani Unit to oust the venerable Friedman Unit? Say it’s not so! Oh, Mustache of Understanding, we hardly knew ye.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Do you ever sleep?  Many thanks for this splendid work, which makes it harder to read the MSM with any confidence that one is getting a correct, let alone a full account of events.

    If Manafort was deeply in debt to people who collect what’s owed them the hard way, one of two things seem probable:  When he joined the campaign, he was under a de facto obligation to provide this sort of information in partial payment for old debt.  Or, this info was something new Manafort put on the table for new money or to be applied to old debt as his creditors saw fit.

    As you say, the former fits the facts better.  It would explain why a guy in so much debt to such hard men – less pleasant than Terry Benedict and his goons – was not out working his rolodex to dig up cash, but was instead working for “free.”

    • Peterr says:


      A Mueller unit is an undefined yet very precise measurement, best captured by my grandmother years before I ever heard of Robert Mueller, most commonly used while she was baking: “You can have it when it’s ready, and not a moment sooner. Now don’t bother me.”

      The last part is critical for understanding a Mueller unit.

    • William Bennett says:

      Pretty sure it would have to be a “Giuliani Unit” since he’s the one occupying the Friedman position in the analogy. Mueller has made no such prediction, not even leaked any.

  4. Semanticleo says:

    Are Manafort’s disgorged gains available for FBI payroll during shut down?

    The irony would be delicious.

  5. punaise says:

    @ Peterr says: 8:50 pm

    The problem is that neighborhood scamp Matthew Whitaker crouched behind a bush outside the kitchen window, waiting to swipe the piping hot pie off the window sill before anyone can taste it.

    • P J Evans says:

      That’s why you have kitchen/pantry cabinets with pierced-tin doors.

      (My mother had a Hoosier cabinet. My father repaired and refinished it. It was handy: the flour lived in the bin with the sifter, the baking dishes were in the cabinet underneath, and  the little drawer over the pull-out enameled-steel worksurface was a catch-all for some odd items – keys, for one.)

  6. Rugger9 says:

    Well, the Mueller report would help, but the independent counsel law in play through the Clinton years is now the Special Counsel law which does not require a report. So, when PatFitz took down Scooter, he did not issue any report about the rest of the investigation. David Corn at Mother Jones has a decent explainer.

    The indictments may be our best indication of malfeasance and the only accountability we will see especially if Kaiser Quisling gets his way.

  7. A. Rice says:

    Stop me if I’m wrong. Manafort gave Trump campaign polling data to Kilimnik, who is “former” GRU. Kilimnik also holds Russian citizenship. So, no matter who else Kilimnik subsequently passed the data along to we’ve STILL got the Trump campaign conspiring and sharing vital, confidential information with Russian intelligence.

    • Rayne says:

      Accurate. Why would any campaign give polling data to a foreign national not employed directly by the campaign anyhow?

      p.s. Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same login information each time you comment, including username, so that community members get to know you. Thanks.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Tell me again why congresscritters are being paid when other federal workers are being asked to work for nothing?

Comments are closed.