Manafort associate charged over illegal lobbying for Ukraine's pro-Russian politicians

When news broke Friday that an associate of President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort had been indicted for acting as an undisclosed foreign agent, it wasn't initially clear how closely tied this might be to the broader Russian Federation investigation.

Patten was charged by way of a criminal information, a document that can only be filed with a defendant's consent and that typically signals a guilty plea is planned.

Patten said that his relationship with Kilimnik-a former officer in Russia's Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) who worked closely with Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, for over a decade-has "been thoroughly explored by relevant government entities". As The Hill noted, Manafort was convicted on eight counts of bank and tax fraud earlier this month and is now facing charges for failing to register as a foreign agent, and conspiring to launder money.

Court documents say Patten drafted op-eds on behalf of an unnamed foreigner and successfully placed an op-ed in an unnamed American media outlet in February 2017 that focused on "Ukraine's ability to work effectively with the new United States administration". In addition to inserting op-ed articles into USA media organizations, Patten and his company set up meetings with his foreign clients and US government officials, including senators on the Foreign Relations Committee, representatives on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and officials from the State Department.

The company that Patten and Foreigner A set up received more than $1 million for their work, court papers say.

Prosecutors said this violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

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. They were lead Manafort prosecutor Andrew Weissmann and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents Omer Meisel and Brock Domin.

Patten appeared in federal court in Washington on Friday. His sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

W. Samuel Patten leaves the federal court Friday in Washington
W. Samuel Patten leaves the federal court Friday in Washington. AP

Manafort made most of his money working for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych before he fled to Russian Federation in 2014, but like Patten also sought to drum up business with the Opposition Bloc in the aftermath of Yanukovych's exit.

Berman Jackson also spoke on the rarity of a foreign lobbying prosecution.

Patten said previous year that Kilimnik had been essential to Manafort's Ukraine operation, which had been perceived by allies and opponents alike as the savviest of the American consulting operations working in the country. Mr. Patten faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to US$250,000.

Patten's ties to Kilimnik are more concrete.

Patten registered with Congress in 2016 to lobby for a group called the Committee to Destroy Isis, which was financed in part by a Jordanian construction company, according to disclosures filed with the Senate Office of Public Records.

Intriguingly, Patten is also tied to the controversial political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

The 35-minute court proceeding was sparsely attended by members of the press and court employees, yet members of Mueller's special counsel's office filled a front row of seats.

  • Joey Payne