On Friday afternoon, Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed a superseding Indictment against Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort. The new indictment added charges of obstruction and conspiracy to commit obstruction, and added those same charges against Russian intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik. Kilimnik, who worked with Manafort during his years of supporting pro-Russian forces in Ukraine, was widely suspected of being “Person A,” who appeared in earlier versions of indictments against both Manafort and his partner Rick Gates.
Over a year ago, Kilimnik’s role surfaced as the Washington Post reported on Manafort’s calls to Kilimnik during the campaign. At the time, Kilimnik was still residing in Kiev. But, as the New York Times reported in May, the government of Ukraine suddenly stopped cooperating with the Mueller investigation some weeks ago. Multiple cases surrounding Manafort, his work for Russia, his millions in off the book payments and his role in triggering staged riots—including one in which US Marines came under attack—were “frozen” in apparent concern that appearing to go after Manafort would stand in the way of promised US arms sales to Ukraine.
With Russia not just on the doorstep, but across the threshold and occupying the living room, Ukraine was determined to keep relations with the United States intact.
“In every possible way, we will avoid irritating the top American officials,” Mr. Ariev said in an interview. “We shouldn’t spoil relations with the administration.”
But there appears to have been another price for delivering those US missiles to Ukraine. Because according to Julia Ioffe at The Atlantic, the prerequisites also included sending Kilimnik where Mueller can’t get him.
Apparently, when under enough personal threat, Donald Trump is capable of making a deal.
Also, last we heard of Kilimnik, Ukraine allowed him to return to Russia, apparently as part of a deal to get Javelin missiles from the Trump administration.
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) June 8, 2018
Other sources have indicated that Kilimnik is no longer to be found in Kiev. So it certainly appears that he, like the hackers Mueller indicted earlier, is unlikely to ever appear in a US court. But if reports are true, and Trump really did pressure an allied nation to put a suspect out of reach before completing military aid … obstruction is not an adequate term. On his part, Paul Manafort faces the very real possibility that his bail will be revoked.