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Mathis-Lilley writes: "On Tuesday, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's attorneys filed a response to the Robert Mueller-led special counsel's office's accusations that he lied to investigators after coming to a plea agreement."

Kevin Downing, one of Paul Manafort’s attorneys, on Oct. 19, 2018. (photo: Alex Wong/Getty)
Kevin Downing, one of Paul Manafort’s attorneys, on Oct. 19, 2018. (photo: Alex Wong/Getty)

Manafort Filing Suggests Mueller Has Evidence of Something That Starts With C and Rhymes With Schmollusion

By Ben Mathis-Lilley, Slate

09 January 19


ell, well, well. Well, well.


On Tuesday, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s attorneys filed a response to the Robert Mueller–led special counsel’s office’s accusations that he lied to investigators after coming to a plea agreement. There are some sections of the filing that were redacted with black bars but which you can read by copying and re-pasting the redacted section into a new document. In those sections, Manafort’s team admits in passing that, while he was working for Trump in 2016, he shared polling data and discussed Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine with Konstantin Kilimnik. Kilimnik, in turn, is a former Manafort business partner who Mueller’s team has previously identified as someone with active ties to Russian intelligence. Verbatim:

(See, e.g., Doc. 460 at 5 (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); id. at 6 (After being told that Mr. Kilimnik had traveled to Madrid on the same day that Mr. Manafort was in Madrid, Mr. Manafort “acknowledged” that he and Mr. Kilimnik met while they were both in Madrid)). …

In fact, during a proffer meeting held with the Special Counsel on September 11, 2018, Mr. Manafort explained to the Government attorneys and investigators that he would have given the Ukrainian peace plan more thought, had the issue not been raised during the period he was engaged with work related to the presidential campaign. Issues and communications related to Ukrainian political events simply were not at the forefront of Mr. Manafort’s mind during the period at issue and it is not surprising at all that Mr. Manafort was unable to recall specific details prior to having his recollection refreshed. The same is true with regard to the Government’s allegation that Mr. Manafort lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign. (See Doc. 460 at 6).

(N.b.: Other material in the filing makes clear that the “presidential campaign” in question was Trump’s, not a foreign campaign.)

One of the White House’s hoariest talking points as various former Trump advisers have been convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice by Mueller’s office is that none of the criminal behavior being prosecuted involved “collusion” with Russia. What we have here is evidence that, at some point during the 2016 campaign, Manafort passed on polling data and discussed a “Ukrainian peace plan” with an (alleged) Russian intelligence figure at around the time when he attended a Trump Tower meeting with other Russian operatives regarding that country’s “support” for Trump’s campaign. (A filing in a different special counsel case even says that Manafort’s business partner, Rick Gates, believed that Kilimnik had at one point worked for the GRU—the arm of Russian intelligence responsible for hacking and leaking Democratic Party emails.) Meanwhile, the campaign was adopting a suspiciously pro-Russian position on the Ukrainian civil war.

One word for collaborating with someone to give them something they want in exchange for something you want is collusion. Or as U.S. criminal law would have it, conspiracy.

As always, there’s Still A Lot We Don’t Know (TM) about this story. We don’t know why Mueller thinks Kilimnik still had “active” ties to Russian intelligence in 2016. We don’t know if Kilimnik was coordinating with the Russians who attended the Trump Tower meeting. We don’t know if Manafort was coordinating with the other Trump campaign figures who had connections to Russia. And we don’t know what Trump himself knew about what was going on.

Still! It’s bad.

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-8 # bevin 2019-01-09 21:58
These nothingburger stories get thinner and thinner.
There really is not the smallest likelihood that there is any evidence here of "collusion."
Mannafort was working for the Ukrainian government not the Kremlin.
As to the "Ukrainian Civil War" the peculiarity is not that Trump was not an enthusiast for this gem in Hillary's foreign policy crown but that anyone not equipped with an unusually long and disinfected barge pole would associate with the neo-Nazis of Maidan.
-8 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-01-10 12:04
bevin -- I agree with you.

In 2016 Manafort was still a political consultant with long ties in Ukraine. It would be strange if he did not talk with associates he formed during his work for Ukraine. And everyone in the world was interested in the progress of the US presidential elections -- as they are now in 2020.

The Mueller Probe Cheerleaders in the media act as if no one has a right to talk to anyone unless Mueller OK's it. They think all subjects are classified. The FACT is that everyone has a right to talk about every subject they are interested in with whomever they choose to. Manafort did not -- like FBI or DOJ agents -- swear an oath of confidentiality .

I heard John Kiriakou a few days ago on the radio talking about his recent article on Gina Haspel's work at Guantanamo reviewing his "lifetime" contract with the CIA to never talk or write about anything connecting to CIA business without first getting CIA approval.

Manafort had no such contract. But the Mueller Stooges at the major media think we all should have such lifetime contracts. They think we should all get permission from the FBI to talk to anyone, especially a Russian. Maybe Ukranian Nazis are exempt.
+2 # MidwestDick 2019-01-10 00:46
Trump has just tweeted that when he said no Kaluzhin, he was talking about Fyodor Kaluzhin a GRU official who died of polonium intoxication in 2015. Kaluzhin was one of the few officers in the GRU who was not working on the Trump file.
+2 # Jaax88 2019-01-10 14:06
Piece by piece is how a legal case is put together for a trial. That appears to be what Mueller's team is doing and overall very effectively (so far with a number of convictions and guilty pleas.) I suppose one can look at the clown Trump's efforts to get a Wall as a distraction for him from the Mueller and other investigations and ultimately if he is impeached, loses 2020 election or quits that he can say he at least got something done, "I built the TRUMP WALL (the greatest wall in history) against all odds" he might say wit his usual lying.

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