- The special counsel Robert Mueller is zeroing in on a series of conversations between former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Russian intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik that took place between August 2016 and March 2018.
- It’s unclear what the conversations specifically focused on because much of the information in the court filing is redacted.
- But both Manafort and Kilimnik have previously acknowledged that they met in person on August 2, 2016.
- Manafort said he and Kilimnik discussed the Trump campaign and the recent hack of the Democratic National Committee during the meeting on August 2, 2016.
- Kilimnik said they did not discuss the campaign but talked about “current news” and “unpaid bills.”
- Shortly after the August meeting, a private jet linked to the Russian-Ukrainian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, whom Manafort was indebted to, arrived in the US for less than 24 hours.
The special counsel Robert Mueller’s office submitted an extensive 31-page court filing late Tuesday that offers an unprecedented window into the alleged lies that Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump’s campaign, told prosecutors after pleading guilty in the Russia investigation last year.
Much of Tuesday’s court filing is redacted, as is an accompanying document containing approximately 70 exhibits.
But prosecutors did reveal some intriguing details about Manafort’s dealings with investigators and the grand jury that could offer hints about where the Russia probe is headed.
For one, they reaffirmed that Manafort testified to the grand jury about his communications with the former Russian intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik. According to the filing, prosecutors are interested in conversations Manafort and Kilimnik had about a certain topic from August 2, 2016 until March 2018. Much of the information about their interactions about this topic was redacted in the filing.
Several of their discussions were in person, prosecutors said.
Manafort has previously acknowledged that he met with Kilimnik in May and August of 2016.
Three days before the August meeting with Manafort, Kilimnik wrote in an email to the Trump campaign chairman that he had “met today with the guy who gave you your biggest black caviar jar several years ago,” a reference to the Russian-Ukrainian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and loans that he had given to Manafort.
“We spent about 5 hours talking about his story, and I have several important messages from him to you,” Kilimnik wrote, adding, “I need about two hours because it is a long caviar story to tell.”
Manafort is known to have offered Deripaska “private briefings” about the Trump campaign beginning in April 2016 and continuing until at least July. Former intelligence officials told INSIDER the offer appeared to be part of an effort by Manafort to resolve a longstanding financial dispute with Deripaska.
Manafort said he and Kilimnik discussed the Trump campaign and the recent hack of the Democratic National Committee during the meeting on August 2, 2016. Kilimnik, meanwhile, said they did not discuss the campaign but talked about “current news” and “unpaid bills.”
Shortly after the August 2 meeting, a jet linked to Deripaska arrived in the US and landed in Newark, New Jersey. It was in the US for less than 24 hours.
In addition to misleading investigators about his meetings with Kilimnik, Manafort is also accused of lying about sharing confidential Trump campaign polling data with the former Russian intelligence operative, and discussing a Russia-Ukraine “peace plan” with him.
Mueller’s work with the grand jury in the FBI’s inquiry into Russian election interference is typically shrouded in mystery. But the public has slowly learned the details of Manafort’s cooperation with prosecutors since November, when Mueller first accused Manafort of lying to investigators in violation of his plea deal.
In December, the special counsel said in a court filing that Manafort told “discernible lies” about multiple topics, including his interactions with Kilimnik; a $125,000 payment made to a firm related to a debt Manafort had incurred; his communications with Trump administration officials; and information relevant to another Justice Department investigation.
Earlier this month, Manafort’s lawyers made a formatting error in a court filing and accidentally unsealed even more information about those alleged lies, which they said were told unintentionally.
This week, Mueller revealed that Kilimnik, in particular, is central to several threads in the Russia investigation, which is examining whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the race in his favor, and whether Trump sought to obstruct justice when he fired FBI director James Comey in 2017.
The New York Times reported last weekend that Comey’s firing also prompted the bureau to launch a separate counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump is a witting or unwitting agent of the Russian government.