Attorneys for Paul Manafort inadvertently disclosed on Tuesday that the former Trump campaign chairman gave 2016 presidential polling data to a Kiev associate U.S. officials have linked to Russian intelligence and may have discussed a Ukraine peace plan with him. The disclosures surfaced in a filing made public Tuesday in which the attorneys disputed special counsel Robert Mueller’s allegation that their client lied to investigators about his contacts with the Kiev associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, and about other matters after reaching a plea agreement last year. Manafort’s attorneys meant to redact the disclosure from the public version of their filing, but they screwed up.
I borrow above from the lead paragraphs of the Wall Street Journal story “Manafort’s Lawyers Reveal New Details of His Links to Kiev Associate.” The AP puts a more sinister spin on its otherwise good story with the headline “Manafort accused of sharing 2016 election data with Russians.”
The so-called “election data” is polling. Do you suppose Trump’s polling data was markedly better than the stuff that was freely offered by many news organizations in the course of the campaign? I don’t. Was there in fact something sinister about Manafort sharing the polling with his “former Russian associate”? I don’t know, but I doubt it took place as part of the alleged Russian “collusion” with the Trump campaign. If Manafort was in fact lying about it, however, maybe there is something beyond Manafort’s personal corruption there, but we should have heard about it by now if that is the case.
Reading around online about Konstantin Kilimnik, I see that he is widely thought to be Person A in the various indictments handed up in Mueller’s cases. If you are in search of Russian collusion with a presidential campaign, you might want to take a look at the Clinton campaign’s Steele Dossier featuring the friends of Vladimir Putin. They appear in the dossier as Sources A and B. For some reason, however, that does not appear to be Mueller’s tack.
UPDATE: CNN’s Chris Cillizza explains “Why the latest Paul Manafort news is a very big deal.”