Russia Probe: Manafort Associate Sam Patten Charged With Illegal Lobbying

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's ex-associate Sam Patten has been charged with failing to register as a foreign agent in the United States, Bloomberg reports.

The charges against Patten were filed following a referral from the head of the Special Counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections Robert Mueller. From 2014 until now, according to Bloomberg, Patten lobbied on behalf of a Ukrainian political party, and on behalf of a Ukrainian oligarch.

Patten, therefore, violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, according to prosecutors. The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of five years in prison. A company Patten was associated with received more than $1 million for their lobbying efforts.

Apart from lobbying on behalf of various Ukrainian political entities and politicians, Patten previously worked on the micro-targeting operations of Cambridge Analytica, Bloomberg noted. Paul Manafort's former associate was also head of International Republican Institute's Moscow office from 2001 to 2004, worked with the late opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, served as Eurasian program director at a Russia-focused advocacy group, and worked as a legislative adviser and speechwriter for two U.S. senators.

News of Patten's legal trouble comes as Paul Manafort prepares for a second trial in Washington D.C. As the Washington Post reported Wednesday, Manafort's legal team is demanding that the trial be moved to Roanoke, citing alleged bias among Washington jurors.

Manafort's Washington trial is scheduled to start September 24. As The Hill noted, Manafort was convicted on eight counts of bank and tax fraud earlier this month and is now facing charges for failing to register as a foreign agent, and conspiring to launder money.

Talks of President Donald Trump pardoning Paul Manafort, in an effort to disrupt Mueller's Russia probe, have prompted even Trump loyalists, who reportedly claim that Trump's pardoning of Paul Manafort would be a "bridge too far," to caution the POTUS, according to Alternet.

Even though Trump and his legal team have indicated that they would wait until after special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation wraps up, the pardoning of Paul Manafort reportedly is, and will continue to be on the table. According to Alternet, however, legal experts argue that, despite the fact that the POTUS has not yet tried to actually pardon Manafort, his involvement in the case nonetheless constitutes obstruction of justice.

"Whether and when he acts, it appears that Mr. Trump has already embarked on a strategy of using his pardon power to silence witnesses in the Mueller investigation. In other words, at this point, dangling the prospect of a pardon or going ahead and exercising it amounts to the same thing: obstruction of justice," law professors Alex Whiting, and Ryan Goodman said.