Manafort Associate May Have Helped Coordinate Russia’s 2016 Email Hack-And-Leak
The Senate Intelligence Committee wrote in its Russia report released Tuesday that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s business associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, “is a Russian intelligence officer who may have helped coordinate the Russian hacking and leaking of Democratic emails,” NBC News reported.
- The news outlet also said the report indicates “that Manafort himself may have had knowledge of the effort before the emails were leaked.”
- “According to the bipartisan Senate report, Manafort associate and ex-employee Konstantin Kilimnik is a Russian intelligence officer who may have had links to the hack-and-leak operation of the GRU, Russia's military intelligence agency,” NBC News continued, noting that the GRU “hacked the emails of prominent Democrats and provided them to WikiLeaks.”
- The committee wrote that "On numerous occasions over the course of his time on the Trump Campaign, Manafort sought to secretly share internal Campaign information with Kilimnik.”
- It also says that “Kilimnik was briefed by Manafort on the Trump campaign's strategy for beating Hillary Clinton,” NBC News wrote.
"The Committee was unable to reliably determine why Manafort shared sensitive internal polling data or Campaign strategy with Kilimnik," the report says. The report notes that both Manafort and his then-business partner and Trump campaign official Rick Gates said the sharing of the information was an attempt to resolve past business disputes and gain new work with their former Russian and Ukranian clients.
- Per the report, "Gates ultimately claimed that he did not trust Kilimnik, that he did not know why Manafort was sharing internal polling data with him, and that Kilimnik could have given the data to anyone."
- The committee assessed that “Manafort had links to people who posed a ‘grave counterintelligence threat,’ but doesn't conclude whether Manafort took part in the GRU's efforts to hack the campaign.”
- "Manafort's involvement with the GRU hack-and-leak operation is largely unknown,” the committee wrote, while also noting that "two pieces of information ... raise the possibility of Manafort's potential connection to the hack-and-leak operations."
The report also says that the committee observed "numerous Russian-government actors from late 2016 until at least January 2020 consistently spreading overlapping false narratives which sought to discredit investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and spread false information about the events of 2016."
Specifically, "Manafort and Kilimnik both sought to promote the narrative that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 U.S. election and that the 'ledger' naming payments to Manafort was fake."
The report says it was Kilimnik who "almost certainly helped arrange some of the first public messaging that Ukraine had interfered in the U.S. election." President Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani would later repeat that messaging.
- NBC News noted that “Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 and left in August 2016 after media reports about his work in Ukraine forced his resignation.”
- “He was ultimately charged and pleaded guilty in an investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller's office, and later a federal judge determined he [violated] the cooperation agreement that was part of his guilty plea by lying to investigators,” the news outlet wrote.