Manafort met with Ukrainian businessman amid Moscow meddling
Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager to President Trump, met last August with a Ukrainian businessman around the same time as questions mounted over whether Moscow was working to interfere in the election, The Washington Post reported Monday.
Manafort met Konstantin Kilimnik at the Grand Havana Room cigar bar in New York to discuss “bills unpaid by our clients, about the overall situation in Ukraine … and about the current news,” like the presidential campaign, Kilimnik told The Post in a statement.
Kilimnik, who studied at a military school that is thought to be the location where many Russian spies train, had previously run the Ukraine-based office for Manafort’s political consulting firm.
That meeting with Manafort was one of two they shared while Manafort led Trump’s campaign, but came just two weeks before he resigned from the post after reports emerged of his potentially illegal off-the-books deals for $12.7 million from the party for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
According to The Post, federal investigators are interested in the relationship between Kilimnik and Manafort.
Kilimnik told The Post that his meetings with Manafort were “private visits” and were “in no way related to politics or the presidential campaign in the U.S.” He added he didn’t visit with any other Trump campaign staffers and that he had “no relation to the Russian or any other intelligence service.”
News of the previously undisclosed August meeting, however, comes as investigations, by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller and by the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, into whether anyone associated with Trump’s campaign or transition effort coordinated with Moscow to meddle in the election have escalated.
Manafort and his contacts are known to be a focus of those probes.