When You Just Can’t Stop Cooperating

Sam Patten. (Facebook)
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May 15, 2020 10:53 a.m.

Remember Sam Patten?

He’s the American political consultant who pleaded guilty in August 2018 to violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and who admitted in his plea to illegally helping a Ukrainian politician client of Paul Manafort’s secure tickets to Trump’s inauguration.

Patten has since been sentenced, and, according to government reports, provided extensive cooperation to investigations in multiple jurisdictions.

The Ukrainian client for whom Patten illegally funneled money into the inauguration was none other than Sergey Lyovochkin, who met with Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik while in D.C. on that trip and who, during the campaign, allegedly received polling data from Manafort.

But that’s all in the past. What’s interesting now is that Patten has filed for an early end to his probation. The government decided not to oppose the request, and noted the following in its filing about the matter:

In addition, the defendant acceded to a request to debrief with the government on April, 17, 2020. On that date, the defendant met in person with the government in the presence of his attorney, and answered questions for approximately 2.5 hours. The government investigators assess that the defendant did not appear evasive or deceitful, appeared to answer all the questions put to him to the best of his ability, and admitted to a lack of knowledge or memory when appropriate. The government views the defendant’s debrief as being helpful to ongoing investigations.

It’s not clear what Patten was asked about, or in what investigations he would still be participating.

The Assistant U.S. Attorney who signed the filing — a career official — joined the case 11 days ago, after the case’s previous federal prosecutor left for the SEC.

An attorney for Patten didn’t return a request for comment.

Prosecutors are still reportedly investigating widespread foreign contributions to Trump’s inaugural committee. In his August 2018 guilty plea, Patten admitted to using a straw donor for foreign contributions to the committee in exchange for tickets to the inaugural.

Any other string emanating from the Ukraine element of this — be it related to Manafort or Konstantin Kilimnik — could also be relevant.

At the same time, Patten’s newfound cooperation (and early end to probation) comes as the Justice Department is exhibiting what might generously be described as “curiosity” about investigations into Russian interference in 2016. Attorney General Bill Barr has tasked several U.S. Attorneys with combing through portions of the investigation, most notably Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham.

Meanwhile, the DOJ made a starkly politicized move last week to drop charges against Michael Flynn, an unprecedented reversal of charges against a defendant who had pleaded guilty.

It remains unclear how or on what Patten is cooperating. From the above, all we know is that Patten remains an active, cooperating witness available to the government.

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