Can't get enough Russia Hoax? Suffering withdrawal symptoms? Aaron Maté has fix for you. His article yesterday at Real Clear Investigations details an interview with Konstantin Kilimnik, "the man cast as a linchpin of debunked Trump-Russia collusion theories":
is breaking his silence to vigorously dispute the U.S. government’s effort to brand him a Russian spy and put him behind bars.
In an exclusive interview with RealClearInvestigations, Konstantin Kilimnik stated, "I have no relationship whatsoever to any intelligence services, be they Russian or Ukrainian or American, or anyone else."
Kilimnik, a longtime employee of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, spoke out in response to an explosive Treasury Department statement declaring that he had "provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy" during the 2016 election.
Obviously, I'm not in a position to pass judgment on whether or not Kilimnik has "no relationship whatsoever to any intelligence services". Beyond formalities, sometimes such a relationship is in the eyes of the beholder--in a manner of speaking. On the other hand, Kilimnik does "vigorously dispute" what little evidence the US Government claims fed into the judgment that he's a "Russian spy". Some of that evidence, while not exactly open source, seems distinctly non-sensitive. If the US government wished to expose Kilimnik as a fraud in that regard, it is in a position to easily do so.
For example. The FBI and Mueller claim that in 1997 Kilimnik entered the US on a Russian diplomatic passport. Kilimnik denies that claim and has produced an image of a civilian passport and an image of his Visa marked "R"--regular--indicating that he didn't enter the US as a diplomat:
But Kilimnik's passport from that period – to judge from the images he shared with RCI via a messaging app – was issued in the standard red color, not in the green color of the diplomatic corps. The document also contains a regular U.S. visa issued on October 28, 1997 – the same date the Mueller report claims he traveled to the U.S. "with a Russian diplomatic passport." The U.S. visa to Kilimnik is issued under the category of "R" – which stands for Regular – and "B1/B2," the designation for a temporary visa for business and tourism.
Similar considerations apply to the claim that Kilimnik met with Paul Manafort in Spain in 2017. Such travel by Kilimnik, if it occurred--which he denies, should be fairly easy to confirm and doesn't seem all that sensitive. Spain, after all, is a NATO ally and might readily share travel information of that sort. Kilimnik says that he planned that trip but it was canceled due to the expense. Is this claimed incident extrapolation from FISA derived information, for example, about a planned trip that failed to materialize--but the cancellation didn't show up in FISA take?
The other major area that Kilimnik disputes is the nature of any polling data that he shared. He claims that he only shared public source "top line" information along the lines of "Clinton 43, Trump 42"--not anything sensitive. In that regard ...
Treasury has declined all media requests for elaboration on how it reached conclusions that those probes did not. Two unidentified officials told NBC News that U.S. intelligence "has developed new information" about Kilimnik "that leads them to believe" (emphasis added) that he passed on the polling data to Russia. But these sources "did not identify the source or type of intelligence that had been developed," nor "when or how" it was received.
"Nobody has seen any evidence to support these claims about Kilimnik," a congressional source familiar with the House and Senate's multiple Russia-related investigations told RCI.
Despite the absence of evidence, the Treasury press release's one-sentence claim about Kilimnik has been widely greeted as the Trump-Russia smoking gun. Rep. Adam Schiff ...
Beyond that dispute, any evidence that sensitive polling data was used by the Russian government for anything at all is slim to the vanishing point.
In the meantime, the FBI is offering $250K for
information leading to [Kilimnik's] arrest over a 2018 witness tampering charge in Manafort's shuttered Ukraine lobbying case, which was unrelated to Russia, collusion, or any elections.
One is left to wonder whether the reward being offered has as much or more to do with preventing Kilimnik from traveling to a venue where he could be readily questioned as it does with a serious desire to bring him to an open trial.