Yet another Trump-Russia scandal participant has pleaded guilty and decided to begin working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to expose the rest of the scandal. Not only does Samuel Patten have ties to Paul Manafort and notorious Russian spy Konstantin Kilimnik, he also steered Kremlin money into Donald Trump’s inauguration committee – meaning that he has beans to spill on some key people.
In yet another reminder that Robert Mueller is usually several steps ahead of the media and the public, we’re now learning that Mueller had previously referred the Samuel Patten case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington DC. Even though Mueller had handed off the case, it’s now coming back to him in the form of a plea deal, which USA Today says specifically includes Patten working with Mueller, and not merely with the U.S. Attorney. This is a big deal for three reasons.
First, as reported by NBC News, this confirms what has long been widely suspected: the Kremlin was dumping money into Donald Trump’s controversial inauguration fund. Trump raised far more money than was needed, much of it from unnamed or suspicious sources, Most of the excess money was either never officially accounted for, or paid to people with close ties to Trump. Second, Mueller has already indicted Kilimnik, whose whereabouts are unknown. If he does ever find a way to put Kilimnik on trial, this gives him a key witness.
The third major point here is that we’re now seeing a pattern of Robert Mueller referring sideshow cases to various U.S. Attorney’s Offices, only for those cases to result in plea deals which end up helping Mueller. Samuel Patten is now going to directly work with Mueller on Trump-Russia. Mueller previously referred the Michael Cohen case to SDNY, which resulted in a plea deal. We still don’t know the extent of Cohen’s cooperation with Mueller, but Cohen did name Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator in court, which was a big boost to Mueller’s efforts.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report