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Why Russians Were Courting Trump World

Why Russians Were Courting Trump World


The Mueller report answers lots of questions but leaves one big one lingering: Why were so many Russians so eager to ingratiate themselves with Trump World?

The report is in one sense a story of meetings, pitches, and introductions that were entertained but ultimately unfulfilled. “In some instances, the Campaign was receptive to the offers” of Russian help, “while in other instances the Campaign officials shied away,” the report says. In any case, no one broke the law with a criminal conspiracy.

Special counsel Robert Mueller reaffirmed the intelligence community’s conclusions that the Russian government directed an online campaign of hacking and trolling to help Donald Trump in 2016. What’s less clear are the intentions of the many Russians who reached out to the Trump campaign offline and whether they were well-connected covert emissaries of the Kremlin or just hucksters trying to latch onto the coattails of a potential president.  

Parsing the motivations of the various Russian supplicants is difficult in part because many of them were a mirror image of their counterparts in Trump World: D-listers in their own political hierarchy for whom the line between state policy and personal gain is unclear.

In previous court filings and in the special counsel’s final report, prosecutors wrote that the FBI believes Konstantin Kilimnik, a former partner in Paul Manafort’s consulting business in Ukraine who had worked for the Soviet army as a translator in the 1980s, has “ties to Russian intelligence.” Kilimnik held a Russian diplomatic passport as recently as 1997, and a number of his former associates relayed their belief that the dual Russian-Ukrainian national was, at least at some point, a spy.



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