With Labor Day on Monday, the scuttlebutt in DC is that Mueller would drop at least one final bombshell on the Russia case before "Justice Department guidelines" kicked in about non-interference in the 60 days before the 2018 midterms. (Didn't stop James Comey two years ago, right?)
The man did not disappoint. Not by a long shot.
A former Paul Manafort associate who pleaded guilty to a lobbying crime admitted that he helped foreign donors give money to President Donald Trump’s Inaugural Committee.
In a plea agreement made public Friday, prosecutors outlined other crimes that the lobbyist, Sam Patten, admitted to but wouldn’t be charged with. Among them was “causing foreign money” to be paid to the Trump inaugural committee. Patten signed off on the allegation.
Patten pleaded guilty earlier Friday to failing to disclose his lobbying on behalf of Ukraine, and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
According to a court filing, Patten’s Ukrainian client wanted to attend the Trump inauguration in January 2017, but the Inauguration Committee couldn’t accept money from foreign nationals because of Federal Election Commission rules.
To get around that restriction, Patten enlisted a U.S. citizen to serve as a “straw” buyer, according to the filing. That individual, who wasn’t named, bought four tickets for $50,000, after receiving a check for $50,000 from the consulting firm run by Patten and Konstantin Kilimnik, Manafort’s longtime fixer in Ukraine suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence. That firm, in turn, was reimbursed by a $50,000 wire from the Ukrainian oligarch’s Cypriot bank account, the filing says.
It’s unclear whether anyone on the Inaugural Committee was aware that the money came from a Ukrainian, or whether Patten has more to tell investigators about the matter.
“The big question seems to be whether he has testimony to offer about the purpose behind the payments to the inauguration committee,” said Harry Sandick, a former federal prosecutor in New York who’s now a white-collar criminal defense lawyer.
Konstatin Kilimnik has been Manafort's Putin contact for a while now. I told you he was dirty two full years ago. If Patten is ratting on Manafort and Kilimnik, then our old friend Oleg Deripaska can't be far behind.
To recap: the Trump inaugural committee took foreign donations from Putin's guys.
And we go into Labor Day weekend with that on the line.