The Russia connectionManafort shared Trump campaign polling with Konstantin Kilimnik, a cut-out to Russian intelligence

Published 9 January 2019

While he was the chairman of the Donald Trump presidential campaign, Paul Manafort shared internal campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, a cut-out for the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service. Analysts believe he is, in fact, a Russian intelligence operative. It appears that the Trump campaign’s internal data Manafort shared with Russian intelligence was aimed to help the GRU to make the Kremlin’s social-media disinformation effort on behalf of Trump more targetd and effective, especially in suppressing the African American vote for Hillary Clinton. Kilimnik was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury on 8 June 2018 on charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice by attempting to tamper with a witness on behalf of Manafort.

Paul Manafort’s defense attorneys filed a response Tuesday to the special counsel’s determination that Manafort breached his plea agreement by lying to prosecutors. The defense argued Manafort did not lie but simply forgot important details due to extenuating circumstance. 

New York Times:

In their filing, Mr. Manafort’s defense lawyers said that Mr. Manafort never intentionally misled federal authorities. Instead, they blamed a faulty memory, lack of access to his own records and illness for his mistakes, saying their client has gout, depression and anxiety.

The Committee to Investigate Russia says that the bigger news to come from the filing is that Manafort’s lawyers made a huge mistake in how they redacted the response, and “a simple copy-paste command” allowed anyone to see what was behind the black lines, including the fact that Manafort discussed a Ukraine peace plan, met in Madrid, and shared internal Trump campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik

Associated Press

The allegation marks the first time prosecutors have accused Trump’s chief campaign aide of sharing information related to the election with his Russian contacts. Although the filing does not say whether the polling information was public or what was done with it, it raises the possibility that Russia might have used inside information from Trump’s Republican campaign as part of its effort to interfere with the election on Trump’s behalf.


One question about Russian social-media messages, and a key potential avenue for collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow, is how Russia targeted its messaging so precisely. The Russians may have studied the American electorate closely on their own. But it seems more likely that they tapped their contacts for data to help them figure out what messages to use, and where.