How many indictments can Robert Mueller pile on Paul Manafort? It seems to be a constant dribble of really terrible crimes, but every single indictment also shouts "you're going to die in jail, son" at Manafort.
Today's indictment centers around Konstantin Kilimnik, the man Paul Manafort described as "Russia's brain" when he worked with him in Ukraine and includes charges of obstructing justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, along with conspiracy against the United States.
Mother Jones has had Kilimnik's number for awhile.
During the 2016 campaign, Manafort remained in touch with Kilimnick and used him as a conduit to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. For years, Manafort had wheeled-and-dealed with Deripaska, who is very close to Vladimir Putin. But Deripaska came to believe that Manafort had cheated him out of millions of dollars in one venture. Deripaska then resorted to legal action to get his money back. So while Manafort was directing Trump’s campaign in 2016, he sent messages to Deripaska through Kilimnick, offering the oligarch private briefings on the campaign. He apparently hoped that would square him with Deripaska. It was a rather odd situation: the head of an American presidential campaign privately communicating with a Putin buddy through a former Russian intelligence officer.
In a court filing in March, Mueller’s team reiterated Kilimnick’s ties to Russian military intelligence, referring to him as Person A. The filing also revealed that Rick Gates, Manafort’s partner, who has copped a plea with Mueller, had regularly referred to Kilimnick as “a former Russian Intelligence Officer with GRU.” (GRU is the Russian military intelligence service.)
To recap this curious episode: Just two months after Mueller slammed Manafort for scheming with Kilimnick, a former Russian operative, to get around the gag order, Manafort—who was under close watch by Mueller’s crew—again allegedly recruited Kilimnick for a criminal plot to encourage perjury.
So, to be clear here, Manafort was shopping election updates to Deripaska via Kilimnik out of the goodness of his heart? Is that it?
According to Bloomberg, Mueller may be doing this as part of a larger strategy:
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Indicting someone like Kilimnik who is unlikely to be arrested may be part of a larger strategy by Mueller’s team, said Michael Koenig, a former Justice Department prosecutor now at Hinckley, Allen & Snyder.
“There must be more to this story because the charge alone against a guy who isn’t here and who they may never get doesn’t seem to have much value,” Koenig said. “It suggests it may be a chess move -- the consequences of which are yet unknown to everybody except Bob Mueller.”
You know, as long as his strategy includes perp-walking Donald John Trump and his minions out of the White House and removing all traces of their corrupt regime from our government, I'm good with that. I don't need to know all the fine points. But Robert Mueller does.
This is your reminder that the special counsel probe has obtained five guilty pleas and 18 indictments related to interference in the 2016 presidential election. But listen to them all say there's nothing to see here, because they are afraid.
Donald Trump in particular ought to be afraid. Very, very damned afraid.