Seth Abramson @SethAbramson Lawyer. Professor @UofNH. Columnist @Newsweek. NYT bestselling author. Proof of Conspiracy @StMartinsPress: Analyses @BBC. Views mine. Jun. 07, 2019 5 min read

This is a BIG DEAL:

(1) It appears the Trump administration has already started leaking classified intel to conservative media, which is a crime;
(2) Given that Kilimnik is in a gated GRU compound, this leak is intended to not just "burn" him as a US asset but to get him killed.

(3) My immediate reaction to this is that this is an *entirely new scandal* Congress will have to investigate, as not only is it a Valerie Plame-style "outing" scandal, but also pretty clearly an attempt to get a potential witness against Trump arrested and/or killed by Moscow.

(4) "Outing" Kilimnik as a double- or even triple-agent is the quickest way for Team Trump to ensure that (a) he can't pass any more intel about Manafort (the man Trump said he is *most* worried about flipping on him) to the USIC and (b) he's permanently unavailable as a witness.

(5) We already know Trump participated in this effort to have a potential key witness in the case against him made unavailable, as Trump gave Barr the power to declassify intel. That doesn't mean DOJ can leak to media and doesn't mean selective declassification can't be a crime.

(6) Also, understand that Solomon has consistently misled his readers about the facts of the Trump-Russia investigation and is doing so here. Kilimnik is important to the Mueller Report almost exclusively as a conduit between Manafort and Deripaska, which no one questions he was.

(7) Kilimnik could have been, for all I know, the best asset the State Department had ever developed outside the context of the intel community. It would't change the fact that he was a conduit between Manafort and the Kremlin, and that Manafort believed him to be precisely that.

(8) Understand moreover that we're talking about State here, not one of our intelligence services. We also don't know if the GRU was permitting Kilimnik to supply this information. And I find it hard to believe that State would let Mueller indict someone they considered an asset.

(9) The point is that Solomon, on behalf of the administration, is muddying the waters here. Kilimnik committed a crime against America and no one is contesting that, which means at *best* he was a triple-agent feeding the State Department info he'd been *permitted* to pass on.

(10) It's for this reason that even if you took everything Solomon says as true, the upshot *wouldn't* be that Kilimnik somehow didn't commit a crime but that the Trump administration is leaking sensitive data to media to burn (and to possibly get killed) witnesses against Trump.

(11) So, the key questions now are:

1. Who leaked to Solomon? Was it illegal?
2. Was the data leaked classified?
3. Was the purpose of the leak to "out" a person legally qualifying as a US asset for the purposes of obstruction of justice?
4. Did Trump and/or Barr know about it?

(12) Ancillary questions:

5. Did Solomon just get Kilimnik arrested/killed? Does he or whoever leaked to him have any liability on those grounds? Is Kilimnik still alive?
6. If the Kremlin in fact takes no action, wouldn't it suggest that they had permitted him to do all he did?

(13) Additional ancillary questions:

7. What effect does this possible collusion between Solomon and the Trump team have on other witnesses in the Trump-Russia scandal or in US intel-gathering generally? Should Solomon's article be read as a threat to other witnesses or sources?

(14) For all that, I do want to return to the key point: nothing in this report changes anything for anyone who's actually read the Mueller Report, who's read the indictment against Kilimnik, or who understands a foreign government could *permit* this sort of conduct by an agent.

(15) And I want to again underscore the big-picture point on the other side of the ledger: Trump and his administration, likely with the AG's aid, are willing to destroy our diplomatic institutions and intelligence-gathering capabilities—and get people killed—to save Trump. /end

(PS) A reader notes that the source of some of this information could have been Manafort's attorneys, or filings in the Manafort cases in DC and Virginia. My sense from the Solomon piece is that he has received additional information above and beyond what is in the public record.

(PS2) It'd be an amazingly happy result, and one I'd profoundly prefer, if it turned out that Solomon was simply dishonestly presenting as *new* info that's wholly in the public record already and just not widely known. The best case here is that Solomon is merely a propagandist.

(PS3) Solomon calls a "revelation" documents he describes as "hundreds of pages of government documents which special counsel Robert Mueller possessed since 2018." That doesn't make this sound like public record or the result of a FOIA request. This is being positioned as a leak.

(PS4) Solomon is saying he knows these documents were part of Mueller's case file. While that'd certainly be true if they were filings from Manafort's lawyers, received by those lawyers through the discovery process, it's not clear then why Solomon would call them a "revelation."

(PS5) I suspect neither I nor anyone reading this is familiar enough with the full trial record in Manafort's two federal cases to know if *every* piece of info in the Solomon article was in that record, or came from a lawyer's case file, or was a leak. Solomon implies the last.

(NOTE) By the way—the *worst-faith item* in Solomon's article is his implication that Mueller should've put this intel in his report. The report makes *absolutely clear* that counterintelligence data has been removed. (And the evidence suggests nearly all of it is bad for Trump.)

(SOURCE) So here's the NYT discussing in February 2019 Kilimnik meeting with the State Department and even noting that the indictment against him omits information of this sort. My question is if the level of detail Solomon has is all from public records. 

(CONCLUSION) I have to go to bed (as I have to wake up in 3 hours) but I'll close by repeating what I said previously: the best news possible would be that Solomon's a propagandist and all this is in the public record. If any of it wasn't, we have a scandal of indeterminate size.

You can follow @SethAbramson.


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