When Judge Amy Berman Jackson emerged into the courtroom through a door cut seamlessly into the wooden veneer of the wall, she commanded my full attention.
I have served powerful women many times before in my life—senators, secretaries of state, opposition leaders—and knew how to bow before them. Today was a variation on the theme: I was here to plead guilty before Jackson to a federal felony.
I was so transfixed by her that I never stopped to think who was notably absent from the courtroom on that last day of August: my business partner Konstantin V. Kilimnik or, as I knew him, Kostya. In two weeks, his long-time boss Paul Manafort would stand in the very spot I did and do the same thing I was about to do.
Kostya was initially referred to in the American press as “Person A” in the government’s case against Manafort, the former chairman of the 2016 Trump campaign. When prosecutors moved in February of this year to nullify Manafort’s cooperation agreement with them—because he violated the deal by lying about his contacts with Kostya—a lead prosecutor told Judge Jackson that Manafort’s lies went “very much to the heart of what the special counsel’s office is investigating.” In particular, the government asserted, Manafort had shared Trump polling data with Kostya, leaving many to wonder and speculate about why he might have done such a thing.
But today, Kostya, who had three months earlier been charged along with Manafort by Special Counsel Robert Mueller with witness tampering, was missing. He had disappeared like a shadow at dusk, perhaps to Russia or Ukraine.
To achieve my goal—offering ..