A senior Justice Department lawyer says a former British spy told him at a breakfast meeting two years ago that Russian intelligence believed it had Donald Trump “over a barrel,” according to multiple people familiar with the encounter.
The lawyer, Bruce Ohr, also says he learned that a Trump campaign aide had met with higher-level Russian officials than the aide had acknowledged, the people said.
The previously unreported details of the July 30, 2016, breakfast with Christopher Steele, which Ohr described to lawmakers this week in a private interview, reveal an exchange of potentially explosive information about Trump between two men the president has relentlessly sought to discredit.At Bloomberg, Greg Farrell reports on the guilty plea of lobbyist Sam Patten:
Patten has spent the better part of two decades working with Russians and advocating their interests -- at points intersecting with Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, whom the FBI has characterized as a Russian agent.
He has also reportedly worked on voter microtargeting operations with Cambridge Analytica, the Steve Bannon-linked company that folded after it was implicated in the improper acquisition of data about tens of millions of Facebook users.
Now, Patten has agreed to talk about what he knows, which may open up an inquiry into how much foreign money flowed into President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
On Friday, Patten said he would cooperate with Mueller and other prosecutors as part of his plea deal to a federal crime -- failing to disclose that he was lobbying on behalf of a pro-Russian Ukrainian party. He also admitted to other crimes, for which the U.S. agreed not to prosecute him because of his cooperation.
Those acts included Patten’s admission that he helped a wealthy pro-Russia politician in Ukraine secure a place at Trump’s inauguration, by routing $50,000 in offshore payments to the organizing committee through an American. It’s against the law for foreigners to donate to the inauguration.
It’s unclear whether anyone on the Trump inaugural committee knew that a foreign donation was being disguised as an American one. But in including that allegation in court filings on Friday, prosecutors signaled that it’s an area of possible interest.