The incomplete portrayal of Kilimnik is very important IMO, because a narrative is created in the opening of his report. “The FBI assesses” Kilimnik “to have ties to Russian intelligence,” Mueller’s team wrote on Page 6, putting a sinister light on every contact Kilimnik had with Manafort. What it doesn’t state is that Kilimnik was a “sensitive” intelligence source for State going back to at least 2013 while he was still working for Manafort, according to FBI and State Department memos.If Kilmnik’s previous work doesn’t interact with the Trump investigation, it’s largely irrelevant.
It’s only going to be used to deflect from what Manafort did, which it absolutely should not.
State officials told the FBI that although Kilimnik had Ukrainian and Russian residences, he did not appear to hold any allegiance to Moscow and was critical of Russia’s invasion of the Crimean territory of Ukraine.
“Kilimnik was flabbergasted at the Russian invasion of Crimea,” the FBI added, summarizing Kasanof’s interview with agents. Mueller’s office had all of the FBI interviews with State officials, as well as Kilimnik’s intelligence reports to the U.S. Embassy, well before they portrayed him as a Russian sympathizer tied to Moscow intelligence or charged Manafort in a scheme to obstruct the Russia investigation.
The emails also show how misleading, by omission, the Mueller report’s public portrayal of Kilimnik turns out to be.
For instance, the report makes a big deal about Kilimnik’s meeting with Manafort in August 2016 at the Trump Tower in New York.
By that time, Manafort had served as Trump’s campaign chairman for several months but was about to resign because of a growing controversy about the millions of dollars Manafort accepted as a foreign lobbyist for Yanukovych’s party. Specifically, the Mueller report flagged Kilimnik’s delivery of a peace plan to the Trump campaign for settling the two-year-old Crimea conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
“Kilimnik requested the meeting to deliver in person a peace plan for Ukraine that Manafort acknowledged to the Special Counsel’s Office was a ‘backdoor’ way for Russia to control part of eastern Ukraine,” the Mueller report stated.
But State emails show Kilimnik first delivered a version of his peace plan in May 2016 to the Obama administration during a visit to Washington. Kasanof, his former handler at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, had been promoted to a top policy position at State, and the two met for dinner on May 5, 2016.
The day after the dinner, Kilimnik sent an email to Kasanof’s official State email address recounting the peace plan they had discussed the night before.
Russia wanted “a quick settlement” to get “Ukraine out of the way and get rid of sanctions and move to economic stuff they are interested in,” Kilimnik wrote Kasanof. The email offered eight bullet points for the peace plan — starting with a ceasefire, a law creating economic recovery zones to rebuild war-torn Ukrainian regions, and a “presidential decree on amnesty” for anyone involved in the conflict on both sides.
Kilimnik also provided a valuable piece of intelligence, stating that the old Yanukovych political party aligned with Russia was dead. “Party of Regions cannot be reincarnated. It is over,” he wrote, deriding as “stupid” a Russian-backed politician who wanted to restart the party.
Kasanof replied the next day that, although he was skeptical of some of the intelligence on Russian intentions, it was “very important for us to know.”
He thanked Kilimnik for the detailed plan and added, “I passed the info to my bosses, who are chewing it over.” Kasanof told the FBI that he believed he sent Kilimnik’s peace plan to two senior State officials, including Victoria Nuland, President Obama’s assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs.
So Kilimnik’s delivery of the peace plan to the Trump campaign in August 2016 was flagged by Mueller as potentially nefarious, but its earlier delivery to the Obama administration wasn’t mentioned. That’s what many in the intelligence world might call “deception by omission.”
In an email last month to The Washington Post, he slammed the Mueller report’s “made-up narrative” about him. “I have no ties to Russian or, for that matter, any intelligence operation,” he wrote.
If Mueller’s team can cast such a misleading portrayal of Kilimnik, however, it begs the question of what else might be incorrect or omitted in the report.