Government makes secret filing in foreign lobbying case linked to Mueller

Federal prosecutors on Monday filed a status report under seal in the case of Sam Patten, a GOP consultant and former associate of Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortMany Americans 'just don't care that much' about Trump investigations, says pollster Overwhelming majority of voters want final Mueller report released: poll Trump seizes on poll that shows half agree Mueller investigation is a 'witch hunt' MORE who pleaded guilty in August to illegally lobbying for a political party in Ukraine. 

Since his plea, Patten has been cooperating with prosecutors, including special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE, who referred his case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., likely because it fell outside his original mandate to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Government prosecutors were due to file a joint status report with Patten’s defense attorneys on Monday, which could have revealed information about the extent of his cooperation in ongoing investigations and his readiness to be sentenced. The government’s decision to file the document under seal, which prosecutors acknowledged in a brief notice to the court on Monday, suggests they wanted to keep information shielded from the public.

Patten pleaded guilty to failing to register as a lobbyist for a political party in Ukraine known as the Opposition Bloc. Manafort, President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren: 'White supremacists pose a threat to the United States like any other terrorist group' National Enquirer paid 0,000 for Bezos texts: report Santorum: Trump should 'send emails to a therapist' instead of tweeting MORE's onetime campaign chairman, has similarly admitted to illegally lobbying on behalf of Russian-backed Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovych and his political party, the Party of Regions, which was the successor to the Opposition Bloc.

According to court documents filed in August, Patten ran a company with a Russian national identified only as “Person A” and made more than $1 million through their work for the Opposition Bloc, which included lobbying members of Congress and officials in the United States.

Person A is widely assumed to be Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian suspected of ties to Moscow’s intelligence agencies who also worked with Manafort. Kilimnik was charged alongside Manafort with witness tampering in connection with Mueller’s investigation earlier this year, but he remains out of reach of federal authorities as the U.S. has no extradition agreement with Russia.

In August, Patten also admitted to using a U.S. citizen as a “straw purchaser” in order to obtain tickets to Trump’s inauguration for a “prominent Ukrainian oligarch” who was not identified, though he was not charged with a crime in connection with the admission. He also admitted to lying to the Senate Intelligence Committee about the tickets.

It remains unknown what cases, beyond the Mueller investigation, with which Patten is cooperating. Federal prosecutors in New York City are said to be leading separate investigations into foreign lobbying and Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee.

Patten also reportedly did consulting for Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm that worked for the Trump campaign. The company was forced to shutter its operations earlier this year after coming under massive scrutiny for harvesting data from millions of Facebook users without their permission.

Patten pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act and faces a maximum five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. It is unclear when he will be sentenced.

Shortly after Patten pleaded guilty, Manafort followed suit and agreed to cooperate with Mueller. However, his plea deal broke down in November as the special counsel accused him of lying about various subjects, including his contacts with the White House and Kilimnik.