The Trump-Russia investigation is zeroing in on Konstantin Kilimnik, a translator trained by Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) and associate of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
According to a heavily redacted, transcript of a closed door court hearing a senior attorney working for Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller III, said
Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kilimnik repeatedly communicated about a so-called peace plan for Ukraine starting in early August 2016, while Mr. Manafort was still running Mr. Trump’s campaign, and continuing into 2018, months after Mr. Manafort had been charged by the special counsel’s office with a litany of crimes related to his work in the country. The prosecutors claim that Mr. Manafort misled them about those talks and other interactions with Mr. Kilimnik.
A native of Ukraine, Kilimnik told the New York Times last year that he studied at the Military Institute of the Ministry of Defense in Moscow, and after the Soviet breakup took Russian citizenship, he said in the interview. The institute trains interpreters for the GRU.
Kilimnik worked for a time in Sweden as an interpreter for a Russian company that exported arms, and later in the Moscow office of the International Republican Institute, a Washington-based nonprofit, where he first met Manafort.
Kilimnik’s history with the GRU isn’t proof that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia but is proof that his Russian intelligence background was no obstacle to a close relationship with Trump’s entourage.
Quite the contrary, which is why Kilimnik is of such interest to Mueller’s team.