Former Manafort associate flips, pleads guilty to illegal foreign lobbying

A former Manafort lobbyist charged with failing to register as a foreign agent is now cooperating with Mueller

By Matthew Rozsa
Published August 31, 2018 3:41PM (EDT)
Paul Manafort (Getty/Alex Wong)
Paul Manafort (Getty/Alex Wong)

An associate of Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for Donald Trump who was convicted earlier this month on eight of 18 counts on various tax and bank fraud charges, is facing charges of failing to register as a foreign lobbyist.

The associate, Samuel Patten, has been accused of failing to notify authorities that he was working as a lobbyist on behalf of a Ukrainian political party that advances Russian interests, according to Politico:

Patten's company allegedly received more than $1 million for its Ukraine work from 2015 to 2017, and contacted officials in Congress and the Executive Branch without properly registering as a foreign agent.

Though the information revealed by prosecutors on Friday doesn't directly name anyone other than Patten, reports in the spring indicated that Patten has associations with some of the figures at the center of Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. In addition to his former ties to Manafort, Patten formed a firm in 2015 with Manafort ally Konstantin Kilimnik, who Mueller's team has suggested had ties to Russian intelligence as late as 2016.

The charges filed by prosecutors appear to reference this as "Company A," which the filing characterizes as a joint effort with "a Russian national" in which they were "50-50 partners." The company advised the pro-Russian Ukrainian party Opposition Bloc, including a "prominent Ukraine oligarch," in part by lobbying in the United States.

READ MORE: America is married to the mob: But now the crime boss in the White House is feeling the heat

Prosecutors said on Friday that Patten helped a Russian political operative and a Ukranian businessman illegally purchase four tickets, worth $50,000, to Trump’s inauguration. The government's lawyers allege that the funds flowed through a Cypriot bank account.

Patten’s plea agreement specifically says he must cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller's office.

The trial of Paul Manafort was a hot-button political issue. In addition to being the first major conviction by trial of a current or former Trump associate, it also became contentious due to the behavior of presiding Judge T. S. Ellis, who made it clear from the get-go that he disliked Mueller's legal team and believed the charges against Manafort were motivated by a desire to get him to "flip" on Trump.

Prior to working with Trump, Manafort had a number of connections to Russia. These included advising a pro-Putin puppet who served as Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovych, as well as working as a business associate with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash. When Manafort's connections to Russia became public in August 2016 as he was serving as Trump's campaign chairman, he resigned.

Manafort and Stone's connections to Russia run deep

The directors of a film about former Trump adviser Roger Stone describes their connection

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Donald Trump Paul Manafort Robert Mueller Samuel Patten