Manafort associate charged with acting as foreign agent
An associate of Paul Manafort on Friday pleaded guilty to illegally acting as a foreign agent for a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party in the US — and agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors, according to reports.
In a DC federal court, Samuel Patten copped to failing to register as a foreign agent while lobbying on behalf of the Opposition Bloc party for the past four years and agreed to cooperate in exchange for leniency in his sentencing, the Washington Post reports.
It isn’t exactly clear what case he’ll be cooperating on, and both prosecutors and Patten’s lawyer declined to elaborate to CNBC.
The case against Patten was referred to the US attorney’s office in DC by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose team has been investigating potential coordination between Moscow and the Trump campaign.
Patten was a business associate of Konstantin Kilimnik, a man authorities say has ties to Russian intelligence and who worked closely with Manafort.
Kilimnik is also accused of helping Manafort attempt to tamper with witnesses in his recent trial, where the former campaign manager for President Trump was found guilty of tax fraud.
The charging document, which doesn’t name Kilimnik, says that Patten and an unidentified Russian national did work for the Opposition Bloc party and its members — including a “prominent Ukraine oligarch” — which included setting up meetings with State Department officials and members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in 2015.
Patten also illegally used $50,000 from a Cypriot account to buy four tickets to Trump’s inauguration by using an American citizen to make the purchase — then attended the gala himself alongside the oligarch, according to a separate court document.
He then misled the Senate Intelligence Committee about the tickets while testifying in January by withholding documents that would’ve revealed the money trail back to a foreign account.
In an interview with the Washington Post last year, Patten gushed that Kilimnik helped Manafort understand Ukrainian politics while the longtime political operative was working in the country.
“I would think that Manafort would have been useless there without [Kilimnik],” he told the paper. “You can’t just fly in and talk about the good ole days of Nixon. You have to have some relevance there.”
Patten has also done work for Cambridge Analytica, the data-gathering company that worked on President Trump’s campaign and shuttered following allegations that it violated the privacy of 87 million Facebook users, according to the Guardian.
Manafort is set to stand trial in DC next month for failing to register as a foreign agent and other charges.
With Post wires