June 8, 2018 3:56 pm -

Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team just made our Friday!

Special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday filed new witness tampering criminal charges against ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort as well against Russian citizen and former Manafort operative Konstantin Kilimnik.

Bloomberg has the skinny on Kilimnik:

Kilimnik worked for Manafort’s longtime business partner, Rick Gates, when they served as political consultants in Ukraine. Prosecutors have previously said Manafort and Gates secretly coordinated an extensive lobbying campaign in the U.S. to benefit former President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine before he fled to Moscow. Gates is cooperating with prosecutors in the case against Manafort.

Manafort relied heavily on Kilimnik throughout his decade long work in Ukraine. Fluent in English, he was the main translator for Manafort during meetings with Yanukovych. Manafort’s work in Ukraine dried up after Yanukovych was ousted.

Manafort also turned to Kilimnik to try to resolve his ongoing dispute with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who is close to President Vladimir Putin. Deripaska had agreed to invest $18.9 million in a private equity deal led by Manafort to buy a Ukrainian cable company in 2007. The deal was the subject of a long-running legal dispute, with Deripaska claiming Manafort had defrauded him.

Indicting someone like Kilimnik who is unlikely to be arrested may be part of a larger strategy by Mueller’s team, said Michael Koenig, a former Justice Department prosecutor now at Hinckley, Allen & Snyder.

“There must be more to this story because the charge alone against a guy who isn’t here and who they may never get doesn’t seem to have much value,” Koenig said. “It suggests it may be a chess move — the consequences of which are yet unknown to everybody except Bob Mueller.”

… and Manafort, who now faces a third superseding indictment.

Kilimnik becomes the twentieth person indicted by Manafort.

Manafort, 69, and the 48-year-old Moscow resident Kilimnik were both charged with obstructing justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice by using intimidation or force against a witness, and also with tampering with a witness, victim or informant.

The charges echo allegations Mueller made Monday in his request to revoke Manafort’s bail.

So it wasn’t just tampering — it was threats! Worse yet, much of the criminality laid out in indictment took place during the presidential campaign (ruh-roh)! Mueller’s present filing is a big move in that it:

  • provides more pressure to prompt Manafort to flip;
  • is likely to shake more witnesses to money laundering and illegal lobbying out of the tree; and
  • reveals incontrovertible evidence of collusion and conspiracy between Manafort and Kilimnik — including mafia-esque behavior.

That’s right — and there’s much, much more in the indictment’s delicious details! The best analysis of the indictment we’ve so far seen is in this Twitter thread from’s peerless bloggin’ law nerd, @SpicyFiles. Here’s just a tiny sample of the goldmine Mueller just opened up:

And @AliasVaughn has makes this observation in a separate thread:

Enjoy your weekend, everyone. It’s Mueller Time!

Dave "Doctor" Gonzo is a renegade media producer, occasional bassist, web developer, and Grammy® voter. He is editor and senior contributor to News Behaving Badly. He has written for American Politics Journal, Alan Colmes' Liberaland (Dave was also a semi-frequent Friday guest on Alan's radio show), and (in print) Audio Review. Dave lives in s fortified compound with doorman in Manhattan's not-so-trendy Yorkville neighborhood.