Last week, CNN released a story hinting at how partially-declassified court transcripts reveal that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team had identified a meeting held in August 2016 between former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Russian associate Konstantin Kilimnik that was “of significance to the special counsel.”
Then, in a significant development yesterday, the Washington Post published a report regarding the clandestine meeting and how it is now believed to be at “the heart of” Mueller’s probe. According to an anonymous former senior U.S. intelligence, the meeting is “the most interesting and potentially significant development we have seen in a long time.”
As the Washington Post report notes, the court transcripts revealed that on August 2, 2016, Manafort met with his longtime deputy Rick Gates and Kilimnik at the Grand Havana Room, a ritzy cigar club just blocks away from Trump Tower. During the meeting, the three men discussed a potential “resolution to the conflict over Ukraine” — an issue of great importance to both the Russian government and former Ukranian president Viktor Yanukovych.
Per former CIA official and current Harvard professor Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, the former campaign manager “goes way outside the normal bounds of behavior” in the meeting.
Additionally, per the report, the transcripts show that in the hearing, the judge also alluded to “a handoff by Manafort of internal polling data from Trump’s presidential campaign to his Russian associate.”
“That meeting — and what happened at that meeting — is of significance to the special counsel,” said prosecutor Andrew Weissmann during the hearing.
Also, according to emails received and reviewed by the Post, “Manafort viewed Kilimnik — his liaison to high-level Ukrainian politicians and Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska — as key to leveraging his unpaid role as Trump’s campaign chairman.”