the russia connection
A Ukrainian businessman told The Washington Post about his previously unreported dinner last August with President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, which took place two weeks before Manafort stepped down amid reports he received improper payments for political work he did in Ukraine and questions regarding his business ties to allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Konstantin Kilimnik gave his statement to the Post through Manafort's lawyer, and said during their dinner, they talked about "bills unpaid by our clients." While their meetings were "in no way related to politics or the presidential campaign in the U.S.," Kilimnik said, they did have discussions "related to the perception of the U.S. presidential campaign in Ukraine." For 10 years, Kilimnik helped run Manafort's international political consulting practice in Ukraine; prior to that, he learned English at a military school that some experts believe is a training ground for Russian spies, and once served in the Russian army, the Post reports. While in Ukraine, Manafort worked with the Party of Regions, which is cozy with Russia, and helped elect Viktor Yanukovych to the presidency; he was ousted in 2014, and fled to Russia.
Kilimnik said he also met Manafort in May 2016, two weeks before he became Trump's campaign chairman. Kilimnik's political opponents have said it's possible he's working with Russian intelligence, a claim Kilimnik rejects, and he also said he never met with any of Trump's other campaign officials. A person familiar with the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials told the Post Kilimnik is of interest to the panel. The Justice Department is looking into whether Manafort did not share enough information on his work for foreign political parties as required by law, and NBC News reports subpoenas in New York have been issued seeking information on his real estate loans. Read more about Kilimnik's past at The Washington Post.