Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has been going on for more than 18 months already, and has resulted in numerous indictments and guilty pleas from a number of top aides in Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Paul Manafort is one of those on the list, and on Tuesday, badly redacted court documents showed that Trump’s former campaign manager had at least three confirmed meetings with Russian-intelligence-linked associate Konstantin Kilimnik during the 2016 elections, according to a report by CNN.
One of those meetings was about a Ukraine peace deal, while another saw Manafort sharing polling data from the election with Kilimnik. The third was a meeting between the pair in Madrid during the time of the campaign in 2016, although the contents of that meeting weren’t specified. Manafort’s attorneys admitted to all three of the meetings, according to the filings.
It’s the first time the Mueller investigation has let slip that they have an actual link between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Kilimnik is believed to be “linked to Russian military intelligence,” the same group who are believed to have hacked Democrats’ computers and started a propaganda-ladden social media campaign during the election.
Mueller has long suspected that Kilimnik is central to his case in investigating the GOP campaign to Russia.
These leaked documents have given the first indication that Mueller is on to Kilimnik in his investigations.
Despite these meetings, Mueller has not charged Manafort with any crimes over his contact with Kilimnik, and still only faces the charges for which he pleaded guilty in 2018 regarding witness tampering. The Russian has been charged, but faces only one charge after it was discovered he had assisted Manafort in his witness tampering when he had been taken into custody.
This latest bit of information in the Mueller investigation was revealed from the written answers that Manafort gave to Mueller’s questioning.
After agreeing to cooperate with Mueller in his investigation, Manafort is thought to have lied during questioning. His legal counsel, however, has argued that he did “not intentionally mislead Mueller.” One of the things Mueller believed Manafort had lied about was his relationship with Kilimnik.
Manafort has been sitting in prison for six months already after he spent his time on house arrest attempting to convince witnesses not to testify against him. He has been convicted on tax and fraud charges, and then agreed to cooperate with Mueller on his investigation into the Trump campaign.