Up till now John Solomon, a reporter at The Hill, has done important work in exposing the Deep State conspiracy to take out Donald Trump. That said, he does not understand the world of intelligence and law enforcement when it comes to “confidential sources.” At least that is the case with his latest piece, Key figure that Mueller report linked to Russia was a State Department intel source. You have to read deep into his piece to get to the heart of the matter:
So Kilimnik’s delivery of the peace plan to the Trump campaign in August 2016 was flagged by Mueller as potentially nefarious, but its earlier delivery to the Obama administration wasn’t mentioned. That’s what many in the intelligence world might call “deception by omission.”. . .
Yet, omitting his extensive, trusted assistance to the State Department seems inexplicable.
If Mueller’s team can cast such a misleading portrayal of Kilimnik, however, it begs the question of what else might be incorrect or omitted in the report.
Konstantin Kilimnik was not a special State Department source. He was a routine contact. Solomon is correct is pointing out that the Mueller team portrays contacts with Kilimnik as nefarious and potentially illegal. That is just another example of the fraud and shoddiness that is the Mueller Report.
A genuine Foreign Service Officer aka FSO (i.e., someone who has taken passed the Foreign Service exams and been appointed to the State Departmnet) serving in a U.S. Embassies overseas do not recruit nor run “confidential” human sources. That is the work of the CIA and the DIA. Foreign Service Officers meet with foreign citizens and they do so without having training in conducting clandestine meetings and using clandestine methods to communicate.
Almost all meetings between a FAO and a foreign “source” occur at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate or at some public diplomatic function, such as a reception. The FSO does not set up “secret” meetings.
Here is Solomon’s presentation of one aspect of Kilimnik’s interactions with both State and Paul Manafort:
Specifically, the Mueller report flagged Kilimnik’s delivery of a peace plan to the Trump campaign for settling the two-year-old Crimea conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
“Kilimnik requested the meeting to deliver in person a peace plan for Ukraine that Manafort acknowledged to the Special Counsel’s Office was a ‘backdoor’ way for Russia to control part of eastern Ukraine,” the Mueller report stated.
But State emails showed Kilimnik first delivered a version of his peace plan in May 2016 to the Obama administration during a visit to Washington. Kasanof, his former handler at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, had been promoted to a top policy position at State, and the two met for dinner on May 5, 2016.
The day after the dinner, Kilimnik sent an email to Kasanof’s official State email address recounting the peace plan they had discussed the night before.
Russia wanted “a quick settlement” to get “Ukraine out of the way and get rid of sanctions and move to economic stuff they are interested in,” Kilimnik wrote Kasanof. The email offered eight bullet points for the peace plan — starting with a ceasefire, a law creating economic recovery zones to rebuild war-torn Ukrainian regions, and a “presidential decree on amnesty” for anyone involved in the conflict on both sides.
Solomon is skirting the real story–there was nothing unusual or out of the ordinary about Kilimnik communicating with a U.S. Embassy official. There also was nothing wrong about Kilimnik communicating with Manafort and passing along information received from Manafort. Manafort was not dealing in classified information or intel that was proprietary to the U.S. Government. Nor was he getting paid by the Russians (though that would not have been illegal either) to collect U.S. intelligence.
Foreign Service Officer Kasanof did what any state department officer working in the Political Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kiev would do–he obtained non-classified information form Ukrainians with access to information and key personnel and communicated that back to main State. Normal work for real U.S. diplomats.
Solomon goes on:
Kilimnik also provided a valuable piece of intelligence, stating that the old Yanukovych political party aligned with Russia was dead. “Party of Regions cannot be reincarnated. It is over,” he wrote, deriding as “stupid” a Russian-backed politician who wanted to restart the party.
Kasanof replied the next day that, although he was skeptical of some of the intelligence on Russian intentions, it was “very important for us to know.”
He thanked Kilimnik for the detailed plan and added, “I passed the info to my bosses, who are chewing it over.” Kasanof told the FBI that he believed he sent Kilimnik’s peace plan to two senior State officials, including Victoria Nuland, President Obama’s assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs.
The real heart of the matter is that the Kilimnik/Kasanof communications were ignored by Mueller. Nothing that Paul Manafort was passing on to Kilimnik was illegal or inappropriate.
Solomon wastes a lot of ink trying to paint Kilimnik as some sort of super secret “State Department source.” Talking to a person like Kilimnik is routine and quite normal for a FSO working out of the U.S. Embassy in Kiev. Their reports on a conversation with Kilimnik would be classified as either Confidential or Secret. A really sensitive contact (and Kilimnik was not that) would get an additional caveat, such as EXDIS, which would limit distribution inside State Department. Kilimnik is really not that special. He had no formal position with the Ukrainian Government and only was offering his own well-informed opinion. That kind of information does not qualify as “sensitive” intelligence.