There is still no definitive answer within special counsel Robert Mueller’s report — or at least, within the unredacted portions of it — why President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort shared polling data with Konstantin Kilmnik, a veteran of the Soviet military with ties to the Ukrainian government.
But journalist Michael Weiss laid out a possible explanation, based on the publicly available evidence, of why Manafort could have done it:
The Russians did their own polling, according to Mueller, with IRA employees traveling to swing states. Manafort was sued by Deripaska and owed by Yanukovych. The story, as I read it, was he prostituted the campaign to alleviate his own financial pressure: https://t.co/gznyg7OIab
— Michael Weiss (@michaeldweiss) April 24, 2019
Although Mueller’s report does not appear to answer this question directly, it provides several hints of context behind Manafort’s relationship with Kilmnik, according to Bloomberg News.
“Manafort was seeking to end a long-running business dispute with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. The associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, was peddling a peace plan that would give Moscow more influence in eastern Ukraine,” noted Bloomberg. “And Deripaska, who knew both Manafort and Kilimnik from the years of political consulting they had provided to him, was looking to reverse years of visa woes that had crimped his ability to move freely about the U.S.”
Mueller’s report also revealed how Deripaska paid and loaned Manafort tens of millions of dollars over the course of their business relationship, at the same time that Manafort was advising pro-Putin politicians in Ukraine like Viktor Yanukovych. Furthermore, Deripaska and Manafort had fallen out, with the former suing the latter for $26 million over a failed TV deal.
Manafort additionally offered Deripaska “private briefings” on the Trump campaign directly, although those briefings never took place.