The U.S. will escalate sanctions against the Russian government for hacking American government networks during the 2016 election, the Treasury Department said Thursday. But, in announcing the sanctions, the government went even further than Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe in connecting the dots between the Trump campaign and Russian intel agencies. The statement outlined the pipeline as this: President Trump hired Paul Manafort to run his campaign, who then asked Rick Gates to come aboard. The pair then provided an old colleague, Konstantin Kilimnik, with internal campaign polling and strategy information. Kilimnik then handed it to Russian intelligence officials.
Previous reports confirmed that Kilimnik was a Russian spy but Thursday’s statement confirmed, for the first time, what he did with the campaign’s polling information. “Additionally, Kilimnik sought to promote the narrative that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” the statement said. It took a long time to connect the dots because Kilimnik was not interviewed by Mueller, and Manafort lied about the affair, The Washington Post reports. It’s still unclear whether Trump knew about the sharing of information, and what Russia did with the information.