An American political consultant who is cooperating with federal prosecutors admitted in court Friday that he steered $50,000 illegal payment from a Russian-backed Ukrainian politician to Donald Trump’s inaugural committee — the first public confirmation that illegal foreign money was used to help fund the January 2017 event.
Patten’s plea and cooperation agreement is connected to special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the election and coordination with the Trump campaign — even apparently reaching into former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s inner circle in Ukraine.
This is the first time the Justice Department has publicly charged a person for helping a foreigner secretly funnel money into a Trump political event. Under his deal with prosecutors, Patten is charged only with one criminal count. He faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the felony charge. A sentencing date has not been set.
Patten sought tickets to Trump’s inauguration on behalf of an unnamed prominent Ukrainian oligarch, according to court documents released Friday, ultimately paying $50,000 for four tickets. Patten used another
American as a “straw purchaser,” funneling the Ukrainian’s money secretly to the inaugural committee through a Cypriot bank account.
“Patten was aware at the time that the Presidential Inauguration Committee could not accept money from foreign nationals,” prosecutors wrote in the filing.
Rudy Giuliani, the President’s lawyer, told reporters Friday Patten’s case had nothing to do with his client.
“It turned about to be this irrelevant indictment, where I think Mueller has turned out to be a private prosecutor,” Giuliani said. “What does this have to do with President Trump? Not a single thing. It has nothing to do with collusion, some guy who donated to the inauguration? My goodness,they had 500,000 people donate to the inauguration — every time they get a speeding ticket is Mueller going to do it?”
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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: AP
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