A Republican consultant linked to President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort admitted on Friday he illegally funnelled money from a Ukraine tycoon to Mr Trump’s inauguration.
Sam Patten, who worked with Manafort to advise and lobby for Ukraine’s pro-Russia Opposition Bloc, was the newest person to be charged out of special counsel Robert Mueller’s sprawling Russia collusion investigation.
In a deal with prosecutors Patten, 47, agreed to plead guilty to one charge of failing to register as a foreign agent, a relatively light charge that was conditioned on his cooperation with Mr Mueller and other investigations.
A court filing said he earned more than $1 million between 2015 and 2017 representing the interests of the Opposition Bloc, which Manafort also previously consulted for.
The work was performed by Patten’s joint company with a Russian national who is unnamed in the court filing but appears to be Konstantin Kilimnik, a former linguist of Moscow’s powerful GRU spy agency. US officials say Mr Kilimnik continues to maintain close ties to Russian intelligence.
The charges said Patten worked with his Russian partner to set up meetings between an unnamed "prominent Ukraine oligarch" and member of the US Congress and their staff "to influence United States policy."
Patten also, in January 2017, arranged for the Ukrainian oligarch to attend Mr Trump’s inauguration.
To obtain four tickets, the Ukrainian funneled $50,000 through Patten and another American.
"Patten was aware at the time that the Presidential Inauguration Committee could not accept money from foreign nationals," the charges said.
The Patten case came 10 days after Manafort, a longtime Republican consultant who was chairman of Trump’s election campaign in 2016, was convicted of tax and bank fraud as a part of Mr Mueller’s investigation.
The Patten court filings indicate that he has been cooperating with Mr Mueller’s investigation, and require him to continue to do so before he is sentenced.
Manafort still faces more charges, including obstruction allegations against him and Mr Kilimnik for alleged witness tampering.