The Hill’s John Solomon has discovered a major misrepresentation in the Mueller Report.
In the opening of the report, the Mueller team ties Ukrainian businessman Konstantin Kilimnik, who worked for Paul Manafort’s lobbying firm, to Russian intelligence. The reality is that Kilimnik was a top informant for the U.S. State Department and other Western intelligence agencies as well.
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.
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.
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.
Solomon, a long time investigative reporter, has extensive contacts inside the U.S. intelligence community. One of the FBI interview reports he reviewed said, “Purcell described what he considered an unusual level of discretion that was taken with handling Kilimnik. Normally the head of the political section would not handle sources, but Kasanof informed Purcell that KILIMNIK was a sensitive source.”
The report states:
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.”
According to the report, Kasanof said he was aware that Kilimnik worked for Manafort and “the administration of former Ukraine 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. Kasanof told the FBI:
Kilimnik was one of the only people within the administration who was willing to talk to USEMB (U.S. Embassy) and provided information about the inner workings of Yanukovych’s administration.
Most sources of information in Ukraine were slanted in one direction or another. Kilimnik came across as less slanted than others.
Kilimnik was flabbergasted at the Russian invasion of Crimea.
Kasanof also told the agents that he “met with Kilimnik at least bi-weekly and occasionally multiple times in the same week.”
Kilimnik owned homes in both Russia and Ukraine, but “State officials told the FBI he did not appear to hold any allegiance to Moscow and was critical of Russia’s invasion of the Crimean territory of Ukraine.”
Solomon wrote that “three sources with direct knowledge of the inner workings of Mueller’s office confirmed” that the Mueller team had received “all of the FBI interviews with State officials, as well as Kilimnik’s intelligence reports to the U.S. Embassy” at some point in 2018. Yet in their March 2019 report, they claimed he was a Russian asset and charged him with working with “Manafort in a scheme to obstruct the Russia investigation.”
Solomon had access to “scores of State Department emails” which “contained regular intelligence from Kilimnik on happenings inside the Yanukovych administration, the Crimea conflict and Ukrainian and Russian politics.” He said that all of these documents corroborate Kasanof’s and Purcell’s interviews. He added:
For example, the memos show Kilimnik provided real-time intelligence on everything from whose star in the administration was rising or falling to efforts at stuffing ballot boxes in Ukrainian elections.
Those emails raise further doubt about the Mueller report’s portrayal of Kilimnik as a Russian agent. They show Kilimnik was allowed to visit the United States twice in 2016 to meet with State officials, a clear sign he wasn’t flagged in visa databases as a foreign intelligence threat.
The emails also show how misleading, by omission, the Mueller report’s public portrayal of Kilimnik turns out to be.
The Mueller report states that in August 2016, “Kilimnik requested the meeting [with Paul Manafort at Trump Tower] 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.”
Yet the State emails which Solomon reviewed indicated that Kilimnik had delivered the plan to the Obama administration three months earlier. He met Kasanof for dinner on May 5, 2016 in Washington. The next day, Kilimnik “sent an email to Kasanof’s official State email address recounting the peace plan they had discussed.”
Solomon described the email he had seen:
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. 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 responded that, though he was “skeptical of some of the intelligence on Russian intentions, it was very important for us to know…I passed the info to my bosses, who are chewing it over.”
In his interview with the FBI, Kasanof said he believed he “sent Kilimnik’s peace plan to two senior State officials, including Victoria Nuland, Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs.”
The Mueller report, unsurprisingly, makes no mention of the fact that Kilimnik had given the peace plan to his handler at the State Department in May, but presents his delivery of the plan to Manafort three months later as “potentially nefarious.”
This is a major misrepresentation. Documents indicate that the Mueller team had all of this information in early 2018, yet their final report written one year later omits the one and includes (and embellishes) the other.
Solomon also saw an email Kilimnik had sent last month to The Washington Post, in which “he slammed the Mueller report’s “made-up narrative” about him. “I have no ties to Russian or, for that matter, any intelligence operation.”
Last week, it was reported that the Mueller report omitted an important sentence from a voicemail left by former Trump attorney John Dowd to Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner. That omission completely changed the meaning of the message.
Yesterday, I posted here about the Special Counsel prosecutors’ refusal to turn over transcripts of Michael Flynn’s December 2016 telephone conversations with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, despite Judge Emmet Sullivan’s request. What are they trying to hide?
And now, we have John Solomon’s bombshell revelation about how the Mueller team completely mischaracterized the role of Konstantin Kilimnik.
That’s three red flags in one week. And I can’t imagine that’s the end of it. My guess is that a careful examination of Mueller’s report will offer up a treasure trove of omissions, misrepresentations and outright lies.
Add to that Mueller’s deceptive press conference last week, during which he sought to stir up impeachment fever among House Democrats. Ultimately, Mueller had to walk back his incendiary remarks in a joint statement with the DOJ.
Mueller’s credibility has taken a huge hit. His report will rightly be scrutinized in the weeks to come and likely be viewed as the partisan propaganda we thought it would be.
And just like the powerful master of the universe Robert S. Mueller III said himself, we’ll let the report speak for itself.