WASHINGTON – The Biden administration revealed on Thursday that a business associate of Trump’s campaign officials in 2016 had provided campaign intelligence to Russian intelligence, the strongest evidence to date that Russian spies have infiltrated the internal workings of Trump’s campaign.
The revelation, made public in a Treasury paper announcing new sanctions against Russia, found for the first time that private meetings and communications between campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates and their business partner were a direct pipeline from the campaign to Russian spies. at a time when the Kremlin was engaged in secret efforts to sabotage the 201
Previous government investigations have identified Trump aide Konstantin W. Kilimnik as a Russian spy, and Mr. Manafort’s decision to provide him with data from internal investigations was one of the mysteries that Special Attorney Robert S. Mueller III tried to unravel. during his two-year investigation into Russia’s interference in the election.
“During the 2016 US presidential campaign, Kilimnik provided Russian intelligence with sensitive information about the election and the campaign strategy,” the finance ministry said in a news release. “In addition, Kilimnik tried to promote the story that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 presidential election in the United States.”
The Biden administration did not provide evidence to support the assessment that Russian intelligence received the survey data and campaign information. And the release does not shed light on why Mr Manafort and Mr Gates provided data from Mr Kilimnik’s research, although previous government reports indicate that Mr Manafort believes that information on the strategy of Trump could be a valuable commodity for future business deals with the Kremlin – related oligarchs.
The availability of opinion polls would allow Russia to better understand the strategy of Trump’s campaign – including where the campaign focuses resources – at a time when the Russian government was making its own efforts to undermine Donald J.’s opponent. Trump.
The new sanctions against Russia are in response to the Kremlin’s interference in the election, efforts to hack US government agencies and companies, and other acts of aggression against the United States.
Sanctions now make it extremely difficult for Mr Kilimnik, who was indicted by the Justice Department in 2018 on charges of obstruction of justice, to engage in financial transactions that could involve the United States.
It is not clear how long the US spy agencies have held the conclusion about Mr. Kilimnik. Senior officials in the Trump administration, fearing Mr Trump’s anger, have repeatedly tried to keep out of the public any information that appeared to indicate Mr Trump’s affinity for Russia or its president, Vladimir Putin.
Mr. Kilimnik was a longtime business partner during Mr. Manafort’s time as a political consultant in Ukraine. In 2018, prosecutors in Mr Mueller’s office announced that Mr Kilimnik had “links to Russian intelligence” and that Mr Manafort had instructed Mr Gates to pass on the information on Mr Güllen’s vote and election campaign. Carpet.
The Senate Intelligence Committee went further in August last year in its bipartisan report, which explored the links between the Trump campaign and Russia – calling Mr Kilimnik a “Russian spy.”
The report contains several important revisions that seem to relate to Mr Manafort and Mr Kilimnik, but says Mr Manafort’s willingness to share the information with him “poses a serious threat to counterintelligence”.
The report called the link between Mr Manafort and Mr Kilimnik “the most direct link between senior Trump campaign officials and Russian intelligence.”
The Senate report describes Trump’s campaign with businessmen and other advisers who have little government experience and “present attractive targets for foreign influence, creating remarkable counterintelligence vulnerabilities.”
A 2017 New York Times article said there were numerous interactions between Trump’s campaign and Russian intelligence in the year before the election. FBI officials challenged the report, but both the Senate report and the Treasury Department document confirmed the article’s findings.
The claim that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that tried to disrupt the 2016 election has long been a point of discussion in the Kremlin, and Mr Trump’s claim that foreign actors are trying to help his opponent, Hillary Clinton, and not on him.
Mr Trump’s intrusion on Ukraine’s alleged role in the election was the impetus for a phone call in 2019 with the Ukrainian president, which was paramount to the first impeachment proceedings against Mr Trump.
Mr. Manafort was included in Trump’s campaign in March 2016, at a time when Mr. Trump was largely sewing up the Republican presidential nomination.
Mr. Manafort and his longtime business partner, Mr. Gates, joined Trump’s campaign after years of political consulting work in Ukraine, where they met with Mr. Kilimnik, a trained linguist in the Russian military.
The two men met with Mr. Kilimnik several times after joining the campaign, and in June 2016, Mr. Manafort became chairman of Trump’s campaign.
Details of Mr Manafort’s relationship with Mr Kilimnik were revealed in 2018, when the government prosecuted Mr Manafort and accused Mr Kilimnik of obstructing justice for trying to train potential witnesses in the investigation.
Mr. Kilimnik never came to the United States to be charged. He is wanted by the FBI, and the bureau is offering $ 250,000 for information that could lead to his arrest.