Among Other Things, Sam Patten Plea Signals that Mueller Referrals Will Include False Congressional Testimony

As I noted in an update to this post, another sleazy influence peddler, Sam Patten, just pled guilty to a FARA violation. As his criminal information lays out, he pled to serving as an agent of Konstantin Kilimnik and Serhiy Lyovochkin without registering under FARA. His plea agreement (which notes he first made a proffer to Mueller’s team on May 22, meaning this is another investigation that has been going on months that is being finalized in the last days of August) included a cooperation agreement.

More interesting details, however, are the descriptions of the other crimes he is being excused from, which appear in the statement of the offense.

First, there’s a description of how he served as a straw purchaser for Lyovochkin for inauguration tickets.

To circumvent the foreign donation restriction, PATTEN, with the knowledge of Foreigner A, solicited a United States citizen to act as a “straw” purchaser so that he could conceal from the [Presidential Inauguration Committee] that the tickets for the inauguration were being paid for from a foreign source. The straw purchaser paid $50,000 for four inauguration tickets. The straw purchaser paid that sum one day after receiving from [Begemot Ventures] a check signed by PATTEN in the sum of $50,000. In turn, [Lyovochkin] had paid [Begemot] for the tickets though a Cypriot account. [Kilimnik and Lyovochkin] another Ukrainian, and PATTEN were allocated the four inauguration tickets. Thereafter, PATTEN attended a PIC even in Washington, D.C. with Foreigner B.

I suspect we’ll see a lot more straw purchasers funneling money from foreigners who backed his campaign into Donald Trump’s pocket before this investigation is done.

Less sexy, but procedurally more important, is the revelation that Patten also lied to SSCI.

In or about January 2018, the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) sought PATTEN’s voluntary testimony on various topics. In advance of that testimony, the SSCI sought various pertinent documents from PATTEN.

In or about January 2018, PATTEN testified before the SSCI. Both before and during his testimony, PATTEN misled the SSCI in that he intentionally did not provide SSCI certain documents that could lead to revelation of him causing and concealing the foreign purchase of the PIC tickets, described about, and gave false and misleading testimony to avoid disclosing that he had caused and concealed foreign money to be paid to the PIC. In addition, PATTEN provided misleading testimony about his representation of foreign principals in the United States, so as to conceal his violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Finally, after the interview, PATTEN deleted documents pertinent to his relationships with the above-described foreign principals.

As noted, this is one of the additional crimes that Patten will avoid being charged for by pleading to the FARA charge. Reportedly, SSCI made its own criminal referral, based off different comments.

All of this might concern people like Don Jr, who pretty clearly lied to multiple committees. Because it shows Mueller will use such crimes for leverage.

But Mueller probably has bigger things planned for Don Jr.

Update: This is speculation. But SSCI has released a statement making it clear that they referred Patten, but for statements other than what made it into his plea.

We can confirm that Mr. Patten produced documents to the Committee and was interviewed by Committee staff. Due to concerns about certain statements made by Mr. Patten, the Committee made a criminal referral to the Department of Justice. While the charge, and resultant plea, do not appear to directly involve our referral, we appreciate their review of this matter. We will have no further comments on this case at this time.

One thing SSCI has investigated closely is Cambridge Analytica. One thing this plea is utterly silent about is Patten’s work for CA in 2014.

Which would make the topic an even more interesting thing for Patten to cooperate on (without protection against prosecution) than just straw donors.

Update: On Twitter, Christopher Wylie said,

BREAKING: Ex-Cambridge Analytica contractor Sam Patten just charged by FBI after Mueller referral. This guy was responsible for CA operations in the US that involved covertly testing US voter attitudes on Putin’s leadership… I know there’s more to come…

In his testimony to SJC, he said,

Other CA contractors have worked on pro-Russian political operations in Eastern Europe, including work in Ukraine with suspected Russian intelligence agents. This may have influenced some of CA’s research in the USA. During its research projects in 2014, CA also set up focus groups, message testing and polling on Americans’ views on the leadership of Vladimir Putin and Russian expansionism in Eastern Europe. Of note, Vladimir Putin was the only foreign leader tested by CA.

He also told SJC he was cooperating with FBI, so he presumably made this same claim to FBI under threat of false statements charges.

92 replies
  1. Tracy says:

    Thanks, Marcy!

    I sure hope that Mueller has bigger things planned for Don Jr. – and I hope that Ivanka and Kushner also get held accountable for their crimes, and that some day DJT faces justice.

  2. ApacheTrout says:

    Mr. Patten knows a thing or two worth something to Mr. Mueller to get him to agree to charge only the lesser offense. If I were part of Mr. Patten’s monthly knitting club, I’d be looking around at all those who plead to lesser offenses and get word to Mr. Mueller that it’s time for a cup of tea. I’d hate to be the last one to arrive at that party.

  3. big fan says:

    “But Mueller probably has bigger things planned for Don Jr.”

    “If it’s what you say I love it …”

      • Greenhouse says:

        How’s the corn up in your neck o’ the woods there Marcy, now that we’re near summer’s end? Hope still sweet:)

  4. Bob Conyers says:

    This is a dumb question, but what’s the downside for your typical lobbying shop to just registering under FARA? I realize for the absolutely worst dictators there is a stigma, but most of the big firms don’t exactly hide their affiliation to dictators, and it rarely gets any serious attention anyway.

    There’s probably some paperwork, but that’s just something you hire a firm to handle and then do some more billing to the client. Is it adding some kind of legal liability? Some kind of other problem?

    • Milton Wiltmellow says:

      To be clear, FARA isn’t just paperwork:

      The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) was enacted in 1938. FARA is a disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities.  Disclosure of the required information facilitates evaluation by the government and the American people of the statements and activities of such persons in light of their function as foreign agents. The FARA Registration Unit of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section (CES) in the National Security Division (NSD) is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Act.

  5. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Who is the 4th person? Bannon or Gates?

    Or someone else, possibly tied to Cambridge Analytica?

    • Charles says:

      Maybe this guy?

      In the case of the scandalously famous Paul Manafort, the Ukrainian politician, the “gray cardinal” of the runaway ex-president Viktor Yanukovych, Sergey Lyovochkin has cropped up to surprise of many people

    • Charles says:

      Thanks. That also answers Bob Conyers’ question above as to why people don’t register as foreign agents:

      According to the Friday filing, the Ukrainian oligarch directed Patten not to register as a foreign agent while he was working for the Opposition Blog.

      So, one reason might be that clients don’t want their agents of influence being tied back to them.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        Thanks, that’s interesting.

        Maybe FARA is an example of herding behavior, where the instinct is to do whatever the herd does, so when there is a smart choice and a less smart choice, the herd animals still won’t do the smart thing unless everyone does. Herding animals are afraid of striking out on their own because the exposure is a danger.

        • Brumel says:

          Once you’re under FARA, you’re obliged to periodically disclose your respective activities and above all, finances. I guess that’s the main point of evading it, certainly in this case.

        • Greenhouse says:

          Also, I think in an earlier MT post, she alludes to the fact that FARA historically has been poorly enforced, thus, no doubt contributing to the illegal herd options,  albeit perceived low-risk, mentality.  

  6. Ollie says:

    Well I tell you true:  my hopes (okay, ONE of them) is the truth to come out about Jared’s sudden monies found for his ‘666’ property.  Headlines constantly were counting down the days w/o secured funding and then suddenly…wasn’t it Saudi Moneybags Arabia that gave him the $$$?  There’s GOT to be something very crooked about that one……..

    I get seriously ‘giddy’ just thinking of Donny Jr getting taken down …………..oh…oh………but I can’t even express (w/any decency) what goes on inside me just dreaming about DJT’s demise.  It’s going to be………stupendous……..(an old gal dreaming…)

    • TheraP says:

      But the amount of ‘scaffolding’ that’s going to fall when this whole conspiratorial shebang comes down… the wreckage, the turmoil and political fallout, the rage of those who bought it all – hook, line and sinker (and won’t believe the truth!)….

      I feel queasy just thinking about it. How much we have to dig ourselves out of – to have any smidgen of recovering as a “union.”

      • William Bennett says:

        I feel queasy just thinking about it. How much we have to dig ourselves out of – to have any smidgen of recovering as a “union.”

        Yeah, so do I. I think what we’re really looking at is an opposition between those of us who regard these things as crimes, versus a more longstanding process that has been moving us in this direction on a wider scale–a part of America that actually wants to recast the country in an authoritarian, Putin-like mold and for whom there is a lot of admiration for Putin himself. For those people, even the worst thing Mueller might turn up–some concrete evidence of an active conspiracy–is irrelevant because they’re basically in alignment with where it’s coming from. Confronted on it directly they might not say so (though many would), but the gradual unveiling of the scandal, the incremental movement of positions, has inched us up to the threshold of being open about it. They want the kind of leadership Putin represents here, and Trump is the guy who’s doing it for ’em. If he and Putin got together to bring it about in ways that were, y’know, technically illegal, well, breaking a few eggs is just part of making the omelet.

        I mean, it’s really only just a shade off of official policy. The whole business of tearing down barriers to dark money, and underlying ideas like “money is speech” have advanced it at an all but explicit level. How many GOPers have been receiving laundered Russian money through the NRA, or god knows what other laundering mechanisms, and winked? How many would deal with it by privately justifying it on the basis of basic political sympathies? They basically want a plutocracy, and they have indoctrinated to think of anyone of a different political perspective as the enemy, not just the political opposition. With those justifications, is it really that big a deal where the money comes from? Politicos need money, oligarchs got money, and ultimately we’re all on the same side, aren’t we fellas? Which has been going on for quite a while, well before Trump came along, so it’s pretty entrenched. Like you think you’ve found the infestation, but when you start digging into it you find that your whole foundation is built on it and rooting it out is going to take down the whole building. What do you do then?

    • Rusharuse says:

      yes . . YES . .  YEHSSS!! Mmmm . . . (thinking about Mueller prising open that very private place where campaign and inauguration funding secrets dwell.)

      Do you smoke?

      • Trip says:

        I would like to get to the part where Melania‘s good friend got inauguration money for organizing attendance of Trump events.

        • Ollie says:

          OMG Trip, lol

          It’s really endless.  Wasn’t that some unheard amount like $24,000,000.  Yikes!  I’d forgotten that one.

          • Trip says:

            There’s always something new. I forget things that happened only a few months ago, sometimes.
            It just keeps coming fast and furious.

            And yeah, it was like $26 million. The whole thing was so much more expensive than Obama’s inauguration, and he had expensive talent and more parties. It doesn’t add up.

  7. Doctor My Eyes says:

    I’m not sure I understand what is going on well enough to be sure of this, but it seems to me that people with significant involvement are making decisions to cooperate with Mueller, meaning to me that they fear the eventual justice they think Mueller will mete out more than they fear the long arm of the Russian mob.  This is what gives me the most hope that the infiltration of our institutions is not yet fatal.  Perhaps, as I think Marcy has suggested in the case of Weisselberg, the attempt is to limit the scope and therefore the damage by admitting lesser crimes than have occurred, or perhaps it is even to provide false information.  Still, in squinting through my hazy understanding, it seems that Mueller’s investigation is indeed striking fear, creating an expectation of significant punishment, not just for money laundering but for treasonous actions.  Does this fit with what you pros are seeing?

    • Trip says:

      Not a pro… but Gates turned. He was involved with the money and inauguration. He’d be able to give details on others, like Patten (aside from Manafort). He might have had a few things to say about Leonard Leo and his BH fund, which could possibly implicate McGahn, who then decided to talk. I’m not saying McGahn or Leo did anything illegal, but Gates was the opening for a lot of questions for the others. I wonder in what act and scene Bannon shows up. He has the crazy patriarchal ultra-conservative catholic dogma as political ideology (like Leo). He also has ties to CA. I hope the Mercers make more than a cameo. They deserve their own close-up.

    • Frank Probst says:

      Curious as to what @bmaz thinks, but this plea is the result of another one of Mueller’s hand-offs, not from Mueller himself.  One of the reasons Michael Cohen took a plea deal that would involve years of prison type is that the SDNY was after him, and unlike Mueller, the SDNY seemed to have no qualms about threatening to go after Cohen’s wife.  By contrast, Mueller doesn’t seem like he did this with Manafort (because I have a hard time imagining that he did but that we didn’t hear about it).  I also don’t think Andrew Miller would’ve gotten away with dodging a subpoena for so long if it weren’t for Mueller’s restraint.  And I wonder how many more of these hand-offs there have been without us hearing about them.

      • bmaz says:

        Yep,pretty much that. And, as you know, I have been perplexed by the treatment of Kathleen Manafort from the first day Paul was indicted. The dichotomy between Kathleen from Laura cohen is fairly stark… why the different dynamics? I have no answer and still think it an important question. Miller is a sideshow.

        • Doctor My Eyes says:

          Perhaps Mueller is keeping  his powder dry for the big prizes, or more accurately, putting his limited resources into just getting what he needs from the lower level players in order to solidify what I think y’all speak of as the case in chief? I assume said C-i-C involves the C-i-C as well as others at the highest levels of government.  If that is so, perhaps Manafort’s wife just isn’t worth the time.  I’ve been lucky enough to be on the verge of receiving a speeding ticket when a car flew by us at something like 100 mph.

          Just to be clear, I repeat that all of this is quite hazy to me.

        • getouttahere says:

          With a bigger and better Manafort trial pending, it’s probably too early to say what has or hasn’t been proposed about Mrs. Manafort. As the song goes “Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December, but the days grow short when you reach September.”

          • bmaz says:

            That does and says nothing about why the Feds have stayed back as to Kathleen. They clearly put Laura Cohen in play even pre-indictment to get a plea out of Michael, but there Kathleen sits, with FAR more culpable conduct known from the get go vis a vis Laura Cohen. And two indictments in as to her husband Paul.

        • Bob Conyers says:

          Are you suggesting Kathleen is to Paul as Bette Midler was to Danny DeVito in Ruthless People?

      • Trip says:

        The deal with Patten included a proffer with Mueller and cooperation, in general. I’m sure if there is deeper info needed on other subjects of Mueller, Patten will have to go back and talk to that team. I think that Mueller’s strategy is to disseminate some of these cases because he knows Trump and the entire GOP is gunning for the investigation, but also as a way to limit his focus on the campaign first and foremost. I suppose the inauguration strays slightly away from that.

        • bmaz says:

          Eh, you make your proffer fully and openly at the start. If you don’t, you get screwed and sideways. DOJ, whether Mueller or otherwise, already has a full proffer.

          • Trip says:

            But does it make a difference that the cooperation (and proffer) began with Mueller’s team? Apparently, they appeared in court and watched proceedings, but didn’t participate. Obviously, they have an ongoing interest, even if not a formal one, in this particular case, by virtue of Patten’s agreement and involvement in other areas which may still be under investigation and later to be prosecuted. I would think his association with Cambridge Analytica prior to the election could fall under the purview of influence or potential criminality before or during the campaign, versus after. Or he might be a star witness in Manafort’s second trial, which I believe is more directly related to foreign influence during the campaign, instead of domestic tax (and bank loan) issues.

  8. Trip says:

    Meanwhile, a Trump supporter:
    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) – A federal grand jury indicted current Arkansas State Senator Jeremy Hutchinson for allegedly devising a scheme to steal thousands of dollars in campaign contributions—spending them on personal luxuries and expenses—and then falsifying state campaign finance reports and tax filings as part of the scheme.

    And then there was NY congressman Chris Collins arrested for insider trading (one of Trump’s first congressional supporters).

    And of course, Duncan Hunter and the pricey (campaign-funded) golf shorts.

    There seems to be a growing number of rats caught up in the traps around the swamp. Not just the inner circle of Trumplandia.

    • Doctor My Eyes says:

      In a way, those peripheral arrests are even more heartening, I’m not sure why.  I wonder if they are picking on people they have reason to believe have ties to Russia. Every one of those arrests is shocking.  Since when did the FBI stop infiltrating the left and setting up morons to look like dangerous terrorists to turn their attention to things like insider trading (Martha Stewart excepted) and campaign finance violations? Surely it is no coincidence that all these people are Trump supporters? It is all very disorienting.

      I appreciate you people.  I appreciate the clear thinking and doing the work to keep an eye on what is going on.

      • Trip says:

        The corruption is killing the country. People don’t go and stay in politics to serve the public. They use it as a racket to make bank, get jobs, to the detriment of the people, and that should stop, at all levels.

      • Tracy says:

        I almost had a heart attack – I didn’t see the word “State” in front of senator. B/c I lose sleep over the whole court packing situation/ Kavanaugh hypocrisy/ Schumer’s capitulation to McConnell (I can just see the latter chortling with evil glee at his latest court-packing triumph) – we just have to win back the Senate no matter what the odds.

        I believe that a phenomenal blue wave could turn the Senate. I’m keeping a close eye on the numbers, and so far it looks like there are two handfuls of races that are on the bubble – about half being seats that Dems could pick up, and half being seats that we need to defend.

        The latest poll on the O’Rourke-Cruz race has Cruz at +1!!! And from reporters who have been to the state: the enthusiasm is on Beto’s side, with Cruz drawing MAGA/ Trump supporters, conspiracy people, etc (koo-koo!).

        So I took your comment in a different direction, sorry, Trip! But I will probably keep bringing my Senate Takeover obsession on here till Nov 6!… :-D

    • koolmoe says:

      Ha! Maybe that’s the true meaning of ‘drain the swamp’! So many self-dealing pols will be caught up in Trump’s corruption, the swamp will slowly drain…indeed because of Trump, but not for the campaigned reasons.

      • Trip says:

        Because there is so much corruption swirling around Trump, I think the conspiracy theorists of Q have made up a scenario where Trump is a crime fighting hero working in concert with Mueller. I think the rationalization is that Trump couldn’t possibly be so guilty of corruption and part of the flock. (due to cognitive dissonance).

    • orionATL says:

      expanding –

      what tentacles this monster trump campaign-presidency-republican party operative scandal has, reaching all the way into malaysian politics.

      the trump campaign-and-presidency is on track to become the most corrupt presidency in american history.

      keep in mind that the trump campaign and the subsequent presidency were all fake grass roots populism from the beginning – carefully planned and orchestrated astroturf – from the media in a cage at trump rallies, to “lock her up”, to “drain the swamp”, to “make america great again”, to tradexagreements, the whole show was acalculated, cynical manipulation of the intense yearning and loyalalty of politically unsophisticated citizens.

      the presidency has been nothing but more of the campaign’s successful manipulation by a politician who learned and honed his manipulation skills as a teevee star and flitting gliteratee combined with huge pay-off gifts to those loyal supporters, with nothing atall but cinders for
      ordinary citizens.

  9. Ollie says:

    TheraP “But the amount of ‘scaffolding’ that’s going to fall when this whole conspiratorial shebang comes down… the wreckage, the turmoil and political fallout, the rage of those who bought it all – hook, line and sinker (and won’t believe the truth!)….”

    Oh I have no illusions on the pain and difficulties that are a’comin down the road. Post Trump? It’ll be worse than 9.11. But we’ll be tapped into that patriotism that seems to always unite us Americans and we move forward w/hope and as one. I’ve listened since 2016 Trump supporters call into WashJourn/C.span and I’ve actually cried at that horrid mindset. Like a drunk but worse.
    At least we’ll be ‘recovering’. If we do not take back congress? Gulp I’m not sure that government will work. What we have in office are not ‘country before party’ believers. Our future is not bright w/o major cleansing. Like. We just might have to suffer. Really suffer ..

    • TheraP says:

      “that patriotism that always seems to unite us…”

      Well, there’s a huge difference between banding together because a group of foreign agents staged simultaneous plane take-overs and flew them into buildings” and an “inside” job where the White House is ‘stolen’ via vast conspiracy with a foreign foe.

      The latter spells Mayhem – since so many Americans got snookered into voting for a Delusional Sociopath, a Trickster and Huckster, who speaks their language of grievance and bigotry, feeds off of their frenzied adulation and is always just one step away from handing out the pitchforks and torches – setting off mob violence.

      How’s there going to be a patriotic coming together, when the house of cards falls but Trump followers believe the conspirators over the investigators – be they govt investigators or people like Marcy and other Press Patriots?

      It’s easy to unite against a foreign foe. But a Civil War? That’s a whole nother ball game. And that is the fall-out that worries me! That and the fact that my spouse of 51 years is in very precarious health, which makes fleeing the country almost impossible. (He was born into a nation that had just fought a Civil War. He grew up under a Dictatorship. I hope he doesn’t die under one.)

      This is nation is right now mired in Deep Shit. (And I, as some may have noted, I am not prone to using such language lightly.)

      We are poised on a knife edge. We must muster all our sanity, courage, strength and hope. We will need it!

  10. Avattoir says:

    So much coming at us so fast, I yearn for when the books come out on this – not the insta-crap, not the vanity RW spin – especially the ‘insider’ stories from those already experienced in writing books.

    So I feel like establishing a book wish-list – starting, of course, with fearless leader’s no doubt breathtakingly concise take:
    working title –
    Anatomy Indecent: How Putin & His Oligarch Buds Sold America Their Own Hand-Cranked POTUS

    and the process edition on Trumpfall –
    Twenty Aces & A Mueller: How Quiet Flows The Don Now

    Sam Patten – who I fear may well have been so sleazy that the details of his actual involvement may not live up to the promise suggested by his colorful family history – also is already an author:

    Given that writing cred, his position in Paulie’s Rugworld, his family connections to Joseph & Stewart Alsop, and the high unlikelihood of his realizing a smooth return to his chosen career in influence-peddling, I think it’s fair to anticipate a tell-all-that-I-know from him.
    working title –
    Manafort Destiny: My Journey From Alsop To All Sap

    • Bob Conyers says:

      Bob Woodward is writing one now, and I will guess it’s going to be a glossy version of Michael Wolff’s book. It will be long on the gossip favoring people who talk to him, and extremely short on meaningful analysis or probing questions.

      Right now I really want to see an author who has the guts to illuminate all of the mysteries and uncertainties rather than a pat narrative. Going forward the country needs to know what more needs to be uncovered and who is standing in the way – we are a long way from needing any Bob Woodward style just so stories.

    • Avattoir says:

      Ach, I used an ‘inside’ reference: needs explaining.

      Back when I prosecuted, my office neighbor was an extremely smart fellow Assistant with a wicked quick comic sense (I still use lots of her lines.) & no shyness bone. We all had our time in the barrel with chauvinist federal judges, one of whom when sucking up to his former cronies in the rich folks bar enjoyed referring to whoever of us happened to be in court that day in the third party as “Asssst (‘Say the word, I’ll adjourn so you can try and kick some sense into Asssst Avattoir‘). One time too many he tried it with my neighbor; she responded, ‘That’s ‘Ace’, Judge‘ Which got the office into a round of calling ourselves “Aces”.

      (If she thought he’d earned it, she’d only call a judge ‘Judge’, deliberately waiting until he caught her stare. If one said something that might qualify as harassment, she’d pick up a note pad and say ‘Could you repeat that, Judge? For accuracy.’

      It happened before I joined there,  but she was widely known for having sent a complaint letter to the chief about one particularly offensive judge, drafted like an indictment with brief, even attaching transcripts of everything he’d said in court to or about women lawyers; when the chief didn’t reply promptly, somehow she got it archived into the counsel-only library & posted a notice of it on the message board.)

    • SteveB says:

      W Sam Patten is 47: the book you linked to is authored by his father I think

      Bill Patten grew up in the heart of privileged society to American parents—a debutante mother, a diplomatic father—stationed in Europe. Weekends away from his English boarding school were often spent at the regal country estates of important policy makers and historical figures of the mid-twentieth century. When Bill was twelve years old, his father, William Patten, died, and his mother remarried the renowned columnist Joe Alsop. Patten was swept into Washington during the Kennedy years, where he bore witness to his stepfather’s legendary power-brokering, and watched a very different father figure at work.
      In 1996, when he was forty-seven years old, Bill Patten learned that his biological father was not William Patten, but the noted English diplomat, Duff Cooper. In this quest to know his triumvirate of fathers, Bill Patten offers an unforgettable memoir. My Three Fathers is a search for identity—and a luscious chronicle of a fascinating, bygone era of American aristocracy”

      I have only found references to op-eds as writing credits for Sam, but would be interested to learn of any book credits he has.

  11. Tracy says:

    On a different topic, I hate to inject “hope” into the audience here :-), but for those also obsessed w/ taking back the Senate to block this steam-rolling of judicial nominees, this opinion piece from Bloomberg from last month gives Dems a 50-50 chance to win back Senate if conditions are all around favorable to them – which corresponds w/ my own research of the latest Senate polls on RealClearPolitics (I’m no pollster, either):

    “So the real question is how likely it is that 2018 will be an unusually favorable environment for the party. With President Donald Trump’s approval ratings at a very low 41 percent, it’s hardly a stretch to put those chances at 50-50 or better.”

    (reported yesterday, Trump’s disapproval has increased even more)

    From the polls reported on RealClearPolitics, the top 5 seats that Dems could take back are: AZ (Kyrsten Sinema), MS (Mike Espy), NV (Jackie Rosen), TN (Phil Bredeson), TX (Beto O’Rourke – with latest poll at +1!!!).

    The top 4 seats that Dems need to defend are: FL (Nelson), ND (Heitkamp), MO (McKaskill), MT (Tester). MN (Smith) and NJ (Menendez) are doing a bit better (last at +6).

    A lot of focus is being given to the House races, but Senate is just as important.

    • Frank Probst says:

      Beto O’Rourke in Texas is going to end up being a big deal when the dust settles, even if he loses.  He’s outraising Ted Cruz right now, and he’s definitely putting in the effort to criss-cross the state and boost his name recognition.  If it looks like it’s going to be close, state and national Republicans are going to have to dump a shitload of money into the race to prevent an upset.  The state GOP doesn’t want to lose its stranglehold on the state, so they’re going to have to put up a lot of resources to protect Cruz.  The national GOP doesn’t want to lose the Senate, so they’re going to have to pony up, too.  And since almost everyone hates Ted Cruz, it’s going to leave a very sour taste in people’s mouths to have to waste their resources to protect him.

      • Doctor My Eyes says:

        I already saw somewhere a metric fuckton of outside money is coming to Cruz’s aid.  Was it 2 and a half million?

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          Outside? As in foreign? (kidding. Or am I?)

          That is trump change. Hopefully all blown this holiday weekend when many will not be paying attention to tv or radio due to holiday.

    • Avattoir says:

      Been a while since this sort of thing came up here, but …this is certainly a progressive-FRIENDLY website, but AFAIK not necessarily and not at all reflexively Democratic or any party-supportive. IOW, IDK you’ve posted this on the optimal site.

      • Tracy says:

        Sure, Avattoir – I don’t assume that all people on here share my views. What I mean by having “hope” regards a bipartisan issue; in the system that we have – at least in two months’ time – it falls to the opposition party (Democrats) to check the gross abuse of power by Mitch McConnell. The issue is as follows:

        McConnell has not acted in good faith for the last two years of Obama’s tenure and the first two of Trump’s: freezing the federal district and appeals court appointment process under Obama, including denying Merrick Garland a hearing, then absolutely stuffing of those “stolen” seats with far right-wing and sometimes unqualified nominees. There are also the opaque dealings w/ Kavanaugh (this is a democracy – a “republic” – for goodness sake!) – withholding most of his WH records even though the American people have not seen them, whereas every document in Kagan’s record is still on a website.

        I am fed up w/ the hypocrisy and the “what’s sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander,” and I’d like nothing better than to see McConnell, with his evil plans to stuff our courts with ultraconservatives (which does nothing for “justice” and is not a “just” process itself), as the impotent Minority Leader.

        This is a huge bipartisan issue; the judicial branch is the one branch that is not even remotely popularly elected (then we have our electoral college and non-popular representation in the Senate), so we need to have checks on the appointment process to make sure it is not ill used, and to make it as “democratic” as it can possibly be under the circumstances.

        Our Constitution grants checks on abuses of power by each branch on the other branches, AND citizens get a say every election. So for those out there who have been feeling hopeless over the courts – especially since the ONE check on this president has been from our courts (which have held up well, but that depends on having good judges and a fair process) – there is hope.

        (Also, it’s clear that we need an opposition-party Senate in order to help protect the Special Counsel investigation and its results. Republicans may try to squeeze a new AG in during a lame duck session, but having a Democratic Senate could help check the dissolution of the OSC or the blocking of results.)

        For me, the courts, environment, and education are the issues that I care most about b/c they are most consequential for future generations – in addition to keeping our “republic” from becoming a “banana republic,” by speaking truth to power and holding our government accountable.

        I come here to read about how our v corrupt govt right now has done, and continues to do, wrong things by the American people, and I hope that they’ll be held accountable. I have strong views on holding ALL people who abuse their power, like DJT and Mitch McConnell (in different ways) to account. Our system of government allows us a few checks – elections are one of them.

    • orionATL says:

      after the latest silly tex-repub ad campaign against him, beto o’rourke might want to run ads pointing out that republicans seem only to deal in personal ridicule and denigration.

      to coin a decidedly corny phrase: “where’s the beef, ted?”

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Election polls are less reliable than ever.   If they are polling mostly land lines, their polling is heavily skewed to older, more conservative voters.  More newly registered voters mean that the pollsters miss ever more voters, so the results are ever more skew.  If Florida is any indication, the potential for a huge wave grows every time Trump insults another NFL player.

      If the GOP does not have Cambridge Analytica’s skills in voter suppression and manipulation in 2018, they’re in a world of hurt.  (Justifiably so.)  Why Patten felt that he could lie to SSCI about his CA activities, and why he thought that he could get away with it, is intriguing.  I doubt that he ever expected to be caught.

      Given the scale of the mess surrounding the 2016 election, and dark money flowing in from God only knows where, Mueller seems to be going at the heart of a hundred-headed hydra.

      Which means that Mueller* is not simply up against Trump: he’s up against the alt-right (US, UK, EU),  NRA bots, Russian bots, as well as the Mercer-Adelson-GOP funding infrastructure.

      What makes it all even more interesting is that, despite the chattering classes kibitzing about a split in the Dems between the Bernie ‘wing’ and the corporate Pelosi-Schumer Dems, there was actually a similar split in 2016 in the GOP — between people like the Kochs, who viewed Trump as unfit, and the Mercer-Adelson donors, who were willing to win at all costs (even if it included helping pay for Russian bots, voter suppression, Cambridge Analytica’s manipulations, and Bannon’s alt-right dog whistling:

      The glimmer of good news seems to be that there are plenty of people with resources and connections who are silently cheering Mueller on from the sidelines; it’s strange to be in common cause with the Koch Brothers, but that may up being the weirdest of all silver linings in this political disaster.

      * Mueller being a catch phrase for a combo of actors: FBI, intel, NSA, MI6, etc.

      • Doctor My Eyes says:

        Very well summarized.  I am fundamentally patriotic by my very nature.  That’s the emotional side.  Yet events over my life have resulted in my rational side coming to understand just how very thoroughly the US government has opposed democracy and meritocracy around the world, at least since WWII.  These days every now and then I take a step back in wonder that I am putting all my faith in those who have worked to undermine policy being determined by what the majority want.  In my clearest moments I remind myself that, rather than being in a fight of democracy against Russian mob interference, the fight is between control of the electorate by two different manipulative, dishonest, anti-democratic forces.  I choose the home-grown one simply because it makes more of an effort to pretend to support democracy and, if I’m honest, because they are Americans and therefore less eager to inflict the same damage on the people here that they have willingly inflicted abroad.

        In short, this sucks. I’m not seeing too many heroes.  This was underlined for me yesterday in the Rolling Stone article about Lanny Davis.  There we saw mutually supportive emails between him and Hillary.  Every now and then I remember Hillary saying, after the election, that she hoped she and Trump would still be friends.  These rich fucks are disgusting.

        My biggest fear in all of this is that the corruption runs so deep, has been so normalized, that we as a nation lack the wherewithal to defend ourselves against what is basically an assault on our ideology.

          • Doctor My Eyes says:

            For me it’s still significant that she said that instead of saying, “Holy crap, there goes our democracy,” as many Dem loyalists on places like dkos would have it.  My point being that these guys want power and want to be friends with those they think can help them, not much caring whether their aid comes from mafia, corporatists, or people with ideologies diametrically opposed to theirs.  Issues hotly debated during candidacy are seen as a game to them to compete with who can manipulate the most number of voters.  There is almost no integrity left among those who have been playing the game too long.  I suspect that for most of them, in their own minds they would truly think I am wrong and that they do stand for something, but their actions tell a different story. We humans are very good at lying to ourselves.

  12. joulie says:

    I am not a democrat, but I definitely ain’t a fuckin’ republican. That said I live on the surface of this this spherical room with a 8000 mile diameter, so I cut yu fuckers some slack.

  13. joulie says:

    I am not a democrat, but I definitely ain’t a fuckin’ republican. That said I live on the surface of this this spherical room of a 8000 mile diameter, w a pushin’ 8 trillion population so, I cut yu fuckers some slack.
    this time in englishish

  14. orionATL says:

    so patten was an agent of konstantin kilimnik, long manafort’s alleged assistant in his (manafort’s)  ukraine work.

    as i speculated earlier, why does it not likely follow that manafort too is an agent of kilimnik, not just in a formal, legal manner because he (mr. m.) did not register as a foreign agent, but in actuality as another person like patten that the russian-military-associated (gru) kilimnik handled?

    the russian military operated secretively in the ukraine for some time certainly including 2014 (little green men).

    maybe this plea is an osc prep for the uncoming manafort trial :)

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Former District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin gives a fine critique of Brett Kavanaugh’s decisions as a member of the DC Court of Appeals. She concludes that he does not deserve a seat on the Supreme Court. His views are legally and politically extreme. That makes him unqualified to assume the “swing vote” role occupied by the retired Anthony Kennedy.

    I have a basic problem, though, with how she introduces her critique. She says that having graduated well from Harvard College and Yale Law, and spent a dozen years on the DC Circuit Court, “No one can seriously quarrel with the proposition that he is qualified for the position.”

    She assumes what Kavanaugh’s supporters ought to prove, because compared to the rarefied atmosphere of those qualified to sit on the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh is only minimally qualified.

    Among sitting Justices, only Clarence Thomas had weaker academic and professional credentials when nominated. Several sitting Justices were substantially more impressive: Breyer, Gorsuch, and Sotomayor were ahead of him. Ginsburg, Kagan, and Roberts simply outclassed him.

    Their academic and professional experience was deeper, and showed decades of outstanding achievement against greater odds, especially in the cases of Ginsburg and Sotomayor. Kavanaugh, by contrast, seems to regard a seat on the Supremes as his birthright.

    • Trip says:

      @earl, do you think the cover-up of Kavanaugh documents (not released via FOIA, etc.) might have the secondary motivation of covering for Bush’s administration as well? If torture and war crimes are discussed, the evil penguin Cheney might be behind some of these hidden discussions.

      It will be interesting and possibly revealing to watch coverage of all it by Bush apologists on MSNBC like Nicole Wallace and Steve Schmidt. They are pretty staid in their approach to Trump, but what happens when the problems hit too close to home?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Undoubtedly covering for BushCheney and the Republican courtiers who staffed their administration and – like Kavanaugh – continue to haunt us while pretending to be public servants.

    • Doctor My Eyes says:

      I make the opposite assumption, namely, that we need to start assuming that any kind of degree from Yale should disqualify anyone from having anything to do with governance.  Looking at the graduates they have inflicted on us, one would assume they teach Plutocracy 101 the first year and move on to territory I can’t begin to imagine.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The Ivy League has enough influence on American life, thank you.  So, I agree about avoiding more graduates from Harvard and Yale, which give a dozen or so professors inordinate influence on American law and governance.  We need fewer – preferably no – Samuel Huntingdon’s (no relation), for example, to influence future Supreme Court justices.

      America is a big place.  It has an abundance of talent.  Asian studies from Berkeley or UCLA, physics from CalTech, Ag from A&M or Iowa, technology from Carnegie Mellon or MIT, geography from Johns Hopkins, sociology from Wisconsin or Michigan, international studies from Middlebury, Swarthmore or Tufts.  Anyone, really from the top 10% from any good school and law school: William & Mary, UVA, UNC, Washington U.

      Diverse backgrounds would automatically come with that. Then there’s what people do with it. I would like to see another former GC of the ACLU or EFF, a top union, tort or criminal defense lawyer, a patent lawyer, computer lawyer, bankruptcy or regulatory lawyer.  The complexity of American life and the laws that regulate its framework demand that diversity.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Well said. We really, really need a computer person. Someone that understands the technology and is not confused by buzzwords and acronyms.

        Aside: just want to point out something that many people over decades get confused over. Washington University (WU) is in St. Louis, Missouri, it is not University of Washington (UW), in Seattle, Washington.

        While both have law programs, WU is better IMO.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      So, Mr. Kavanaugh – unlike Sessions – promises not to recuse himself over Trump-related cases.  No surprise.  If he promised to do that, Trump would probably withdraw his nomination, just as he would have done with Sessions.  Everything is about protecting the Don.

      Kavanaugh’s refusal to recuse should be made a big deal, because something can still be done about it.  Once he’s on the court, and unlike all lower courts, no rules would require him to recuse on any case – only settled practice.  Republican nominated justices have demonstrated that they will ignore that practice at the drop of a duck.

      Kavanaugh has a great many potential conflicts.  That would be one reason the Republicans are hiding so much of his record.

  16. Rusharuse says:

    “You don’t understand Donald Trump, he doesn’t pay for anything.”

    Roger Stone

    So, who can explain the 66 million bucks he tipped into the 2016 election? Where/from whom did he get it? If he did scrape it up himself he must surely have been guaranteed it would find its way back . . somehow! Did Mueller just find 50 grand of it? Where is the remaining 65,950,000,00? Does Gates know? Weaselberg, Manafort, Broidy, Big Tommy? What a great mystery this is!

    Wonder if that old, “degenerate fool” ex Wapo reporter has one more big story left in him?

    • Trip says:

      Also of interest is Michael Cohen’s appointment in May 2017 as Deputy National Finance Chairman of the RNC, alongside Broidy, Ballard (who was also on the inauguration committee) and Grand (who was a fundraiser for Pence in Indiana).  The way Rudy tells it Cohen has been a liar and someone who couldn’t be trusted for years. And yet there he is at the RNC after elections. It’s important to note that Cohen wasn’t forced to resign this position, but only volunteered to do so this year in June.

      No one in the GOP said anything negative about him prior.

  17. Avattoir says:

    The latest FISA/Page kerfuffle promoted out of the idiot guides at Judicial Watch has to do with a response via FOIA to the effect of ‘NO HEARING’ on one of the warrants that named Page (This morning POTWEETY extended that out to ALL warrants naming Page.).

    I knew (and I’m pretty sure accurately remember) the exact number of search warrants I was involved in applying for in my times in government prosecution that sought an order allowing for the systemic interception of communications by phone, cellphone, text or other e-communication. I’m not allowed to state that precise number (not necessarily due to any nefarious law enforcement intent – part of the problem here, as emptywheel has posted on a lot over the years, lies the different definitions that apply to such numbers, all the way up the turtle pile), but I CAN say that it’s over 50.

    I do NOT know the exact number of search warrants per se – that is, ones that AFAICT didn’t extend to intercepting voice or e-communications – that I was involved with, either directly or indirectly. That’s because so many of those were:
    abandoned before actually formally applying for court authority, or
    didn’t require fully independent authority, or
    were (or might have been, I would not be able to determine) contributions to larger search efforts in which I wasn’t, or wasn’t necessarily, involved.

    But IAE I would estimate that for every warrant that contemplated any form of wiretap, I was consulted on at least ten that did not. So, this total is definitely low, but I estimate that as a civil serpent attorney in various offices for in total over a decade, I was involved on the government side in AT LEAST 550 search warrant applications.

    I DO know the precise number of those that involved what would be characterized in court records as a “hearing”: one (1).
    That is: one (1) out of more than 550.

    But that one (1) does NOT MATCH the number on which I PERSONALLY ATTENDED ON a judge or other independent adjudicative authority to present an application for a search warrant.

    In fact, on every single such application that contemplated any seizing of any phone, cell or e-communications, without exception, I made a live in person appearance before the judge (in case the judge might have concerns, or questions, or might turn down the application, or might feel the need for some guidance in wading thru the not-infrequently voluminous paperwork (which often they did, at least one of those – but not always; sometimes I just sat or stood there like doofus doorstop as the judge read thru the application before signing it – I can only recall one time where a judge did that and said not. one. word., but there’s nothing at all wrong, immoral, unethical, illegal or unconstitutiona about that).

    That’s how misleading this Judicial Watch / Trump spin is on this point. I have no reason to doubt, and harbor no doubt whatsoever, that at least one DoJo attorney attended personally before the prospective granting judge on each & every one of those FISC applications. But it would rare in the extreme that any of those would have ended up being characterized by the judges’ clerks in official court records as a “hearing”.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, it is absolute nonsense. In fairness, the apps get read a LOT more closely in FISC than normal Title III apps in a District court, but the same net result.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Aside. I do not believe potus himself wrote that tweet.

      He was leaving for golf for one, and the use of third person…

      Spelling and grammar ok, punctuation questionable.

      Just saying.

      • bmaz says:

        Irrelevant. Trump and his Administration have claimed in both pleadings and open court that tweets by that account are, indeed, official statements.

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          Betcha they would argue otherwise in a SCOTUS with Kavanaugh.

          We are talking about corrupted people.

          Seriously insane.

  18. Palli says:

    The billionaire, chair of the grossly lucrative & sparsely attended Inaugural of trump and propagandist TV producer? Enough said.

  19. Rapier says:

    Maybe it was remarked on above in this now large thread but the Senate Intel Committee referred Porter to the Justice Department for his testimony to them. That means Republican chairman Burr signed on. A thing I would have thought would be impossible.

    Given that referral by the committee it was pretty much contingent on the JD to include mention of it but it goes without saying it will not be punished. Lying to congress has been worn as a badge of honor for Republican’s since Ollie North. Used as a sort of token for right of passage to made man conservative.

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