In the rush of information that invariably follows every big breaking story, especially as it regards the ongoing Russia probe by Robert Mueller’s special counsel team, the media is often most concerned with getting the most salacious angle on the most important names in the conversation.
At times, that can be to the detriment of the completeness of public knowledge about the events themselves: Certainly, we were interested in the raid on Michael Cohen’s office back in April, but the wall-to-wall coverage barely touched on the fact that the Feds also took down his hotel room, and that’s where they found much of the evidence that was used to levy a plea deal and get Cohen to flip on the President.
In a longer analysis, it could be said that the fact Cohen was keeping those records not at his office but at the hotel room he was staying in while his Park Avenue apartment was being renovated indicates an ongoing knowledge on the part of Cohen — and anyone he was in contact with — that it was information that authorities were actively seeking, which changes the prosecutorial calculus entirely.
The same can be said of the raid on Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort. The breathless use of the phrase “no-knock warrant” in the frenzy of media coverage completely overshadowed the rest of the events that followed — namely, that Manafort has a co-defendant who was charged the same day as him in a later arraignment for witness tampering.
Konstantin Kilimnik was charged alongside Manafort in federal court, and inattention to his position is what made so many people surprised when they started hearing the actual phrase “Russian spies” in connection with the ongoing investigation. Maria Butina may have had connections to a powerful Russian, and Natalia Veselnitskaya may have been a Kremlin lawyer. But Kilimnik, Paul Manafort’s aide even during the Trump campaign, is an actual Russian spy.
Today in federal court, authorities charged his associate, Samuel Patten of Washington, DC, with failure to register as a foreign agent. Does that sound familiar? It’s one of the charges Manafort himself faces, and could be part of a concerted effort by Mueller to gather up an arsenal of potential flippers — and Patten appears to be an unquestioningly compliant defendant — using charges that are broad enough to cover small crimes and get a defendant in court, but large enough that they could indicate further scrutiny.
Illegal lobbying? Selling influence? All of the Manafort-esque hallmarks are here: Russian oligarchs. Bank accounts in Cyprus. Ages-old connections in the nation’s capital.
But the most interesting connections in DC? The meetings that Patten set up between Russian power-brokers and Republicans in Congress — many of whom are names you know. Patten arranged liaisons with his Russian partner and a Russian oligarch, with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee as recently as 2015. Who’s on that committee? Mark Meadows, to begin with. He’s the man trying hardest to impeach Rod Rosenstein. Dana Rohrabacher — he’s the congressman that Paul Ryan and his pals joked about being on Putin’s payroll. Darrell Issa, the investigation-happy California congressman. Even Ron DeSantis, the Florida representative who just won the gubernatorial primary earlier this week.
As of 2 PM Eastern, Patten has agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors, including Robert Mueller.
They say sunlight is the best disinfectant, and Mueller has been like a top-down convertible on the winding road between Moscow and Washington.
Featured image via screen capture