One of the core questions in the Trump-Russia criminal scandal is how the Kremlin went about specifically buying off Donald Trump and turning him into a puppet. There has long been a trail of circumstantial financial evidence running from the Kremlin to Bank of Cyprus to Deutsche Bank to Trump, but it’s not clear how much progress Robert Mueller has made in proving that the “loans” in question were in fact bribes. However, we do now finally have official confirmation that Russia was continuing to pour money into Trump’s pocket after the election.
Donald Trump’s inauguration fundraising has long been the subject of controversy. The ceremony had few attendees and few performers, yet an exorbitant amount of money was raised. More than a year ago, it was exposed that many of those donations came from fake people and fake companies who were located at fake addresses, some of which were vacant lots. Much of the money raised was paid to friends of the Trump family, while much of it never was accounted for. Now we’re getting some answers about where that money came from.
Today a Kremlin-connected Paul Manafort associate named Samuel Patten pleaded guilty to, among other things, secretly routing $50,000 into the Donald Trump inauguration committee so that Kremlin representatives could attend the event. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to overall amount of suspicious money that poured into the committee. But it’s a start, and it provides a roadmap for tracking where the rest of that money came from.
The important part here is that while the Samuel Patten case has been handled by U.S. Attorney’s Office for Washington DC, it was Robert Mueller who originated the case, and NBC News is reporting that Patten has cut his plea deal specifically with Mueller. This means Patten can reveal who within Team Trump knew this donation was secretly Kremlin money, and he can also point Mueller in the right direction for uncovering which other Russians may have been routing money to Trump through his inauguration committee.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report