Oh, wait. There’s one more previously unreported meeting during the height of Russian interference in the election between President Trump’s campaign chair Paul Manafort and a suspected Russian spy/Ukrainian businessman.
The businessman in question once served in the Russian army, and they discussed, among other things, the presidential election, according to a statement the businessman issued, via Paul Manafort’s lawyer, to The Washington Post.
Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Rachel Weiner reported Monday morning that
this previously unreported meeting was one of two this Ukrainian businessman, who used to be in the Russian army and learned English at a school “some experts consider a training ground for Russian spies,” had with Paul Manafort in the U.S., during the five months he worked for Donald Trump’s campaign.
Kilimnik first met with Manafort “in early May 2016, about two weeks before the Trump adviser was elevated to campaign chairman.”
The second dinner was in August “about two weeks before Manafort resigned under pressure amid reports that he had received improper payments for his political work in Ukraine, allegations that he has denied.”
They talked about many things from bill to current news, including the presidential campaign, according to The Post. This was further detailed in a later paragraph, “Kilimnik said his meetings with Manafort were ‘private visits’ that were ‘in no way related to politics or the presidential campaign in the U.S.’ He said he did not meet with Trump or other campaign staff members. However, he said their contacts included discussions ‘related to the perception of the U.S. presidential campaign in Ukraine.'”
The Post noted a slightly different version of what Manafort and Kilimnik discussed, as told to Politico in March by Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni, who said that they discussed the hacking of the DNC emails.
Kenneth Vogel and David Stern reported in Politico, referring to Kilimnik as a “Kiev-based operative” with “suggested ties to Russian intelligence”, “During their conversations last year, Manafort said he and Kilimnik also discussed an array of subjects related to the presidential campaign, including the hacking of the DNC’s emails, though Manafort stressed that at the time of the conversations, neither he nor other Trump campaign officials knew that Russia was involved in the hacking.”
Furthermore, from Politico, that Kilimnik suggested that “he had played a role in gutting a proposed amendment to the Republican Party platform that would have staked out a more adversarial stance towards Russia, according to a Kiev operative.”
According to the operatives who spoke to Politico for this article back in March, Manafort and Kilimnik remained in contact during the 2016 presidential race because Kilimnik was helping Manafort to collect on a previously undisclosed outstanding debt owed to his company, but Politico notes Manafort told Radio Free Europe he was briefing Manafort on Ukraine.”
That’s many different versions of what was allegedly discussed in both meetings between Donald Trump’s campaign manager and a businessman who has been suspected of being a Russian spy, and yet another previously undisclosed meeting.
Kilimnik “has continued advising Opposition Bloc, which opposes Ukraine’s teetering pro-Western government.” according to a July of 2016 Politico article.
Drip drip drip information that conflicts with previous statements while opening the door to even more questions is not the best approach when a person is in legal trouble that involves headlines. The idea is to get it out there at once and hope the news cycle forgets about you. Instead, the Trump team is so secretive that they continue to make headlines for questionable contacts with Russians, Russian agents, and Russian interests that they haven’t disclosed.
The not disclosing looks bad, especially since it’s a rather unforgettably relentless theme of team Trump.
Manafort is but one piece in a growing tornado of Russian ties around President Trump, including Flynn, Stone, Page, and Kushner. Manafort worked on the campaign team with all of these concerning issues. The transition team then included already disgraced Mike Flynn, who also misled the public about his Russian contacts, and was brought into the White House as Trump’s National Security Advisor and then fired.
So it’s not one Russian connection that might be explained away; it’s a Russian tornado circling around the President and picking up speed.