For the first time in the Russia collusion investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has handed down an indictment that names both a close Donald Trump associate and a Russian national — in fact, a Russian national linked to Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU. The indictment, names Trump 2016 campaign chair Paul Manafort, who already faces two previous indictments on multiple charges in the Russia investigation, one last October and another in February of this year.
But Friday’s new indictment, according to a CNN report, also names Konstantin Kilimnik, 48, a Russian business associate of Manafort, 69, believed to have ties to the military intelligence agency of that country’s government.
In court documents filed by Mueller in March, the special counsel said that Kilimnik, then referred to only as “person A,” in fact had “ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016,” when Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates were working in a high-level capacity for Trump’s presidential campaign.
As theThe Inquisitr reported in March, Gates took a guilty plea to lesser charges and has been providing information to Mueller’s investigation — information that linked Kilimnik to the Trump campaign, confirming that both Manafort and Gates were in communication with suspected Russian intelligence agent Kilimnik during the campaign.
The new indictment, as described in a CNBC report, accuses Manafort and Kilimnik of conspiring to tamper with witnesses and obstruct justice in Mueller’s cases against him. The conspiracy took place in February, according to the indictment, as Manafort was confined under house arrest, but free from jail on $10 million bail.
Mueller earlier this week asked a court to pull the plug on Manafort’s home confinement deal, revoke his bail and put him behind bars, according to a Newsweek report.
The GRU is also known as the “Main Intelligence Administration,” according to information published by GlobalSecurity.org, which says that the agency “has the overall responsibility for intelligence collection by the military.”
But United States intelligence agencies have named the GRU as one of the agencies behind the hacking of Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton campaign email servers during the 2016 presidential campaign, and in March, the online magazine Daily Beast revealed that forensic digital analysis exposed “Guccifer 2.0,” the supposed “lone hacker” who took credit for the cyber-attacks, as “an officer of Russia’s military intelligence directorate (GRU).”
As the Inquisitr reported on May 25, a “high-ranking” GRU agent has been named as a “person of interest” in the 2014 shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which killed 298 people including one U.S. citizen over the war-torn region of Donbas in eastern Ukraine.
Government forces in Ukraine are battling Russian-backed rebels and “thousands” of Russian troops and tanks in the region where the plane was shot down by a Russian But missile, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Manafort has been close to Kilimnik since 2005, according to The Washington Post, when he hired Kilimnik to work at his political consulting firm in Kiev, Ukraine. Manafort’s firm worked to elect and support Ukraine strongman Viktor Yanukovich, who was ousted in a 2014 uprising and is now hiding in Russia.
Kilimnik eventually acted as a liaison between Manafort and Russian billionaire oligarch Oleg Deripaska, according to The Post. Manafort went into business with Deripaska in an arrangement that went south and ended up with Deripaska accusing Manafort of absconding with $19 million.
During the campaign, Manafort offered “private briefings” to Deripaska about the inner workings of the Trump campaign, The Post also reported, as a way to pay off his debt. Whether Deripaska ever received those briefings or any information from Manafort is unclear and Deripsaska denies it.