Last night, some bad news came to light for Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Turns out, when presented with the choice of covering for Manafort’s trail of lies or complying with the special counsel’s requests, Manafort’s friends have chosen the latter. However, his allies snitching on him is a back-burner concern given the news that just dropped.
I read through all 32 pages of the indictment, and one of the key takeaways is that Manafort’s trail of crimes continued into this year. This new indictment blows the idea out of the water that this is all pre-2016 nonsense.
A couple charges detail a plot to obstruct the investigation this year.
The other big story out of this indictment is that a former member of Russian military intelligence (GRU), Konstantin Kilimnik, was indicted as a co-conspirator to Manafort’s plan. Here’s a quick background on Kilimnik, courtesy of Politico:
Kilimnik attended a Soviet military school where he learned to speak fluent Swedish and English, which complemented the Russian and Ukrainian he already spoke. He joined the Russian Army as a translator, work that closely aligned him with the army’s intelligence services — an account pieced together from a handful of people who worked with him or were briefed on his background, including a former senior CIA official with direct knowledge of Kilimnik’s activities.
Kilimnik did not hide his military past from his new employer. In fact, when he was asked how he learned to speak such fluent English, he responded “Russian military intelligence,” according to one IRI official, who quipped, “I never called [the Russian military intelligence agency] GRU headquarters for a reference.”
It soon became an article of faith in IRI circles that Kilimnik had been in the intelligence service, according to five people who worked in and around the group in Moscow, who said Kilimnik never sought to correct that impression.
Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti laid out why this changes the narrative around “collusion.”
Lastly, there is one more nugget in Manafort's indictment that I have yet to see highlighted in major media: some alleged crimes may be directly connected to Trump. These entities were in a previous Manafort indictment, and Mueller is alleging that they are connected to Manafort's grand money laundering scheme. One name jumped out at me.
Per NBC News (emphasis mine):
In 2006, the year he reportedly began working for [Russian oligarch Oleg] Deripaska, Manafort bought a condo in Trump Tower for $3,675,000 through an LLC called John Hannah. John is Manafort's middle name, and Hannah is the middle name of that of his then-business partner, Rick Davis.
Paste's Roger Sollenberger highlighted back in August how the Trump Tower purchase may be problematic for Manafort and possibly Trump.
CNBC reported that Manafort’s Trump Tower purchase was an “all-cash deal.” Now, Robert Mueller has not alleged that these entities are the same—all we can say for certain is that he is indicting an LLC with the exact same name, created in the exact same year that Paul Manafort used it to purchase a condo in Trump Tower using only cash. If this were a tweet, this is where the thinking face emoji would go.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.