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Manafort associate Sam Patten’s guilty plea could help Mueller nail Cambridge Analytica for rigging 2016 election

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The Paul Manafort associate who pleaded guilty Friday as part of a cooperation agreement could help investigators fill in some blanks about Cambridge Analytica’s work for the Trump campaign.

Lobbyist Sam Patten agreed to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors after admitting to failing to register in as a foreign agent for his lobbying work for a Ukrainian political party.

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Patten worked with Manafort, the former Trump campaign chair who was convicted last week of tax and bank fraud, and suspected Russian intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik, who was indicted this summer in the special counsel probe.

Another longtime Manafort associate, Rick Gates, pleaded guilty in February to lying to federal authorities and conspiracy to commit fraud, and he testified in court against his former boss.

Special counsel Robert Mueller referred the Patten case to the U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia as part of his sprawling investigation of Trump campaign ties to Russia.

Patten worked at the Oregon officer of Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL Group, where he helped the data company develop voter targeting operations ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.

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The lobbyist described that work on his professional website, saying that he helped conduct beta tests of voter micro-targeting that he boasted were “adopted by at least one major U.S. presidential candidate.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) hired Cambridge Analytica during his Republican primary run, but after he dropped out the data company was hired by Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who oversaw the campaign’s digital operations.

Mueller is investigating the company, which was owned by hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer.

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There’s no evidence that Patten did any work for the Trump campaign or Cambridge Analytica, whose board included Trump’s campaign CEO and former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon.

But he played a central role in SCL Group’s work in Nigeria in early 2015, when the Cambridge Analytica parent company reportedly hired Israeli hackers to steal emails and dig compromising information on the candidate challenging incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan.

Russian hackers conducted similar operations against Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 campaign, and Mueller is investigating how the Trump campaign knew which specific voters to target with that hacked data on social media.

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Trump’s new argument: He’s immune from all criminal investigation in new tax return lawsuit

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Lawyers for President Trump argue that the president is immune from all criminal investigations in a new federal lawsuit seeking to block New York prosecutors from obtaining his tax returns.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Trump sued his longtime accounting firm Mazars USA and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance on Thursday, after Vance's office subpoenaed the firm to demand eight years of the president’s personal and corporate tax returns.

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HBO’s ‘Real Time’ panel provides roadmap for Democrats to get DNI’s Ukraine report and speed-up impeachment

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During the "Overtime" segment of HBO's "Real Time," Bill Maher and his guests took up the problems the Democrats are having acquiring Donald Trump'stax returns as well as other documents they need if they are going to impeach the president.

Responding to a question over whether the state of New York will indict the president, the conversation turned to prosecutors seeking Trump's taxes.

According to presidential historian Tim Naftali, there is precedent allowing the acquisition.

"Is it really that hard to get somebody's frigging, f*cking taxes? " host Bill Maher asked.

"Actually, there is a precedent," Naftali explained. "If the House started on the impeachment hearings, they could act on the precedent of 1974, where Nixon's taxes were turned over to the impeachment committee. So there is a precedent, but they have to make the decision that they are having an impeachment inquiry."

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2020 Election

Trump slams ‘partisan’ whistleblower, Biden pushes back

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US President Donald Trump on Friday vigorously rejected a whistleblower's claim of wrongdoing, amid reports he used a call with Ukraine's president to pressure him to investigate the son of Trump's Democratic rival Joe Biden.

The whistleblower's secret complaint has triggered a tense showdown between Congress, whose Democratic leaders are demanding to review the complaint, and the executive branch which has barred them from doing so.

It has also raised concerns Trump sought to strong-arm Ukraine into providing damaging information on the president's possible 2020 challenger, which would represent dangerous foreign meddling in the US election -- similar to the interference blamed on Russia in 2016, when Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.

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