Konstantin Kilimnik, a shadowy pro-Russian Ukranian who for years was a business associate of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, played a much larger role than has been previously disclosed in formulating a pro-Russia campaign strategy for the 2016 American presidential campaign, the Associated Press reported today, citing internal memos and business records it has obtained.
Kilimnik has been reported by The New York Times and CNN to be “Person A” in court documents filed against Manafort (who was first arrested in October 2017), alleging that Person A has tied to Russian intelligence agencies or may actually be a Russian intelligence operative.
Kilimnik, now a fugitive from American justice believed to be living inside Russia, was personally charged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on June 8, 2018, on charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, in conjunction with Manafort.
Internal records obtained by AP show that Konstantin Kilimnik, indicted alongside Paul Manafort for alleged witness tampering, played a bigger role in formulating pro-Russia strategy with Manafort than was previously understood. https://t.co/DN5ULSjRCv
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 2, 2018
Kilimnik, Mueller told a federal judge, along with Manafort attempted to tamper with potential witnesses in his investigation, which lead to Manafort’s bail being revoked and him being sent to jail.
Manafort was arrested along with business partner Rick Gates and charged with conspiracy, money laundering and failure to disclose overseas bank accounts as part of his lobbying work in Ukraine.
Those crimes are not directly linked to the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election but did come out of that probe.
Konstantin Kilimnik, who was in repeated contact with Paul Manafort during the campaign and whom Mueller recently indicted, played a key role in helping Manafort draft apro-Russian strategies in Ukrainehttps://t.co/3706BCt9jD
— The Moscow Project (@moscow_project) July 2, 2018
Mueller has been able to use those charges against Manafort, who denies any wrongdoing and Gates, who pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy and lying to the FBI.
Gates, who also worked on the Trump campaign, made a deal with Mueller to cooperate and provide information to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s ongoing investigation as it edges closer to the White House, reported The Washington Post.
According to the AP, Manafort, and Kilimnik began thinking about how Russia could have influence over global, and especially American, politics a decade ago.
“The West is just a little more skillful at playing the modern game, where perception by the world public opinion and the spin is more important than what is actually going on,” Kilimnik wrote to Manafort in a December 2004 memo analyzing Russia’s bungled efforts to manipulate political events in former Soviet states.
“Russia,” added that 2004 memo, “is ultimately going to lose if they do not learn how to play this game.”
Kilimnik played a central role in formulating the pitches Manafort made to get clients in both Ukraine and Russia, according to records seen by the AP.
One of those wealthy clients was Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Kilimnik, who stands no more than five feet tall, was described by Manafort as simply an office manager but the AP reports that he was also Manafort’s translator and at times his fixer.
Kilimnik, reports the AP, “was far more involved in formulating pro-Russian political strategy with Manafort than previously known.”
Earlier today, Special Counsel #Mueller announced new #Obstruction-related indictments against Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national suspected of working on behalf of Russian intelligence, as well as former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. 1/3https://t.co/kdR1uRju9T pic.twitter.com/vHtLdCM85v
— The Loyal Opposition (@TheLoyalO) June 9, 2018
Even after the indictments, Mueller charges that Manafort and Kilimnik “knowingly and intentionally attempted to corrupt persuade another person, to wit: persons D1 and D2, with intent to influence, delay and prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding.”
When Kilimnik first began his work for Manafort, he was also being employed by the International Republican Institute, a U.S. government-funded non-profit whose titular head was Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) which had a mandate to support “democratic elements” that were friendly to the West.
Manafort and Kilimnik were secretly working against exactly that, later representing the pro-Russian puppet president of Ukraine who was eventually forced out and forced to flee to Moscow.
Muller has alleged in court filings, writes the AP, that Kilimnik’s ties to Russian intelligence remained active through the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
Deripaska has denied he hired Manafort for pro-Russian political work and sued the AP last year after it reported he paid Manafort $19 million to influence news coverage and political decision in Eastern Europe as well as in Western capitals. Deripaska’s lawsuit was unsuccessful.
In a filing in the Special Counsel’s case, Manaffort has acknowledged that work to the FBI in 2014, and new files show Deripaska loaned Manafort $10 million in 2010.
In March 2005, the IRI learned that Kilimnik was also working for Manafort and fired him.
After that, he worked fulltime for Manafort for a salary of $10,000 a month.
While Viktor Yanukovych was the pro-Russian president of Ukraine, U.S. officials considered him Manafort’s key aide and met with him to discuss current political affairs.
“The records show that Kilimnik participated in an early Manafort plan to influence Western politicians and media outlets,” reports the AP.
“Unofficially,” continues the AP, “it would be a propaganda operation intended to target Washington and European capitals and ‘train a cadre of leaders who can be relied upon in future governments,’ according to one memo.”
After Yanukovych fell, Kilimnik continued working with Manafort and followed him back to the U.S. in the spring of 2016.
“He told his friends that he had come to the United States for ‘very significant meetings.'” the Atlantic reported in early June, in a detailed profile of Kilimnik, whose nickname was “Kostya.”
“It wasn’t hard for his friends to intuit what he meant,” wrote the Atlantic. “They had read the news reports that Paul Manafort had engineered his own comeback, procuring a top job in the Trump campaign. Just like in the good old days, Manafort had summoned Kilimnik to trail after him.”
After he returned to Kiev,” added the Atlantic, “Kostya would share images of his influence in America, as if they were snapshots of a Disneyland vacation. According to Politico, he bragged that he had shifted the Republican Party’s platform. He claimed to have orchestrated the gutting of a proposal to arm Ukraine in its war against Russian proxies.”
Even after Manafort was indicted by Mueller on charges relating to his Ukraine work, U.S. prosecutors charge that Kilimnik helped ghost-write an op-ed defending Manafort, which appeared under the name of Oleg Voloshyn, a former Ukraine official.
As recently as April, according to Mueller’s investigators, Kilimnik reached out to two witnesses in the Special Counsel’s probe on behalf of Manafort.
“Hey. This is Konstantin,” Kilimnik wrote via the WhatsApp messenger, according to the filings, reports AP. “My friend is looking for ways to connect to you to pass you several messages. Can we arrange that?”
Kilimnik is out of Mueller’s reach, but his role in the American election working for Manafort is likely to play a significant role as the Special Counsel unravels the true story of Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russians.