Manafort shared polling data on 2016 election with elusive Russian – Mueller

Source: The Guardian | January 8, 2019 | Jon Swaine

Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort shared polling data on the 2016 election with a Russian man linked to Moscow’s intelligence agencies, according to special counsel Robert Mueller.

Manafort, 69, is also accused of covering up other meetings and contacts with the Russian, an elusive consultant named Konstantin Kilimnik who worked for Manafort on election campaigns for pro-Kremlin politicians in eastern Europe.

Attorneys for Manafort disclosed the allegations in a court filing in Washington on Tuesday. They appeared in sections of the filing that were meant to be redacted, but where text underneath blacked-out lines could be copied and viewed.

A spokesman for Manafort’s team did not respond to a message asking if the faulty redactions were accidental.

Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and any coordination with Trump’s team, said in a court filing last year that the FBI assesses that Kilimnik “has ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016”.

Kilimnik, 48, trained at a university connected to Russia’s military intelligence agency, formerly known as the GRU, which allegedly spearheaded the Kremlin’s effort to disrupt the US election in 2016. The US has concluded that the Russian operation was ordered by President Vladimir Putin to help Trump’s campaign.

Mueller has also previously said that Rick Gates, Manafort’s deputy on the Trump campaign, described Kilimnik as “a former Russian intelligence officer with the GRU”, which Kilimnik denies.

In the court document made public on Tuesday, Manafort’s attorneys referred to an allegation from Mueller that Manafort “lied about sharing polling data with Mr Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign”. They did not elaborate.

Manafort’s attorneys did not deny that Manafort gave Kilimnik the data, instead stating that he had not lied about it but was merely “unable to recall specific details prior to having his recollection refreshed”.

The attorneys also confirmed that Manafort had met Kilimnik in Madrid, claiming he “had not initially remembered” the meeting but recalled it when confronted with records showing the two were in the Spanish capital at the same time.

It was previously known that Kilimnik and Manafort had met twice during 2016 in the US. The date of the Madrid meeting was not stated.

Manafort’s attorneys also said on Tuesday that when presented with other records by Mueller’s team, he conceded “he discussed or may have discussed a Ukraine peace plan with Mr Kilimnik on more than one occasion”.

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