Key figure that Mueller report linked to Russia was a State Department intel source
A few more such errors and omissions, and Americans may begin to wonder if the Mueller report is worth the paper on which it was printed.
JOHN SOLOMON, THE HILL
In a key finding of the Mueller report, Ukrainian businessman Konstantin Kilimnik, who worked for Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, is tied to Russian intelligence.
But hundreds of pages of government documents — which special counsel Robert Mueller possessed since 2018 — describe Kilimnik as a “sensitive” intelligence source for the U.S. State Department who informed on Ukrainian and Russian matters.
Why Mueller’s team omitted that part of the Kilimnik narrative from its report and related court filings is not known. But the revelation of it comes as the accuracy of Mueller’s Russia conclusions face increased scrutiny.
The incomplete portrayal of Kilimnik is so important to Mueller’s overall narrative that it is raised 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, the former Trump campaign chairman.
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 I reviewed.
Kilimnik was not just any run-of-the-mill source, either.
He interacted with the chief political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, sometimes meeting several times a week to provide information on the Ukraine government. He relayed messages back to Ukraine’s leaders and delivered written reports to U.S. officials via emails that stretched on for thousands of words, the memos show.
The FBI knew all of this, well before the Mueller investigation concluded.
Alan Purcell, the chief political officer at the Kiev embassy from 2014 to 2017, told FBI agents that State officials, including senior embassy officials Alexander Kasanof and Eric Schultz, deemed Kilimnik to be such a valuable asset that they kept his name out of cables for fear he would be compromised by leaks to WikiLeaks.
“Purcell described what he considered an unusual level of discretion that was taken with handling Kilimnik,” states one FBI interview report that I reviewed. “Normally the head of the political section would not handle sources, but Kasanof informed Purcell that KILIMNIK was a sensitive source.”
Purcell told the FBI that Kilimnik provided “detailed information about OB (Ukraine’s opposition bloc) inner workings” that sometimes was so valuable it was forwarded immediately to the ambassador. Purcell learned that other Western governments relied on Kilimnik as a source, too.
“One time, in a meeting with the Italian embassy, Purcell heard the Italian ambassador echo a talking point that was strikingly familiar to the point Kilimnik had shared with Purcell,” the FBI report states.
Kasanof, who preceded Purcell as the U.S. Embassy political officer, told the FBI he knew Kilimnik worked for Manafort’s lobbying firm and the administration of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, whose Party of Regions hired Manafort’s firm.
Kasanof described Kilimnik as one of the few reliable insiders the U.S. Embassy had informing on Yanukovych. Kilimnik began his relationship as an informant with the U.S. deputy chief of mission in 2012–13, before being handed off to the embassy’s political office, the records suggest.
“Kilimnik was one of the only people within the administration who was willing to talk to USEMB,” referring to the U.S. Embassy, and he “provided information about the inner workings of Yanukovych’s administration,” Kasanof told the FBI agents.
“Kasanof met with Kilimnik at least bi-weekly and occasionally multiple times in the same week,” always outside the embassy to avoid detection, the FBI wrote. “Kasanof allowed Kilimnik to take the lead on operational security” for their meetings.
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.
“Most sources of information in Ukraine were slanted in one direction or another,” Kasanof told agents. “Kilimnik came across as less slanted than others.”
“Kilimnik was flabbergasted at the Russian invasion of Crimea,” the FBI added, summarizing Kasanof’s interview with agents.
Three sources with direct knowledge of the inner workings of Mueller’s office confirmed to me that the special prosecutor’s team 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 Kilimnik with participating with Manafort in a scheme to obstruct the Russia investigation.
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