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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.

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.

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.

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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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Senator Elizabeth Warren leads Democrats in spirited first 2020 debate

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Ten Democrats clashed in the first debate of the 2020 presidential race Wednesday with Elizabeth Warren cementing her status as a top-tier candidate and several underdogs using the issue of immigration to clamor for the limelight.

The biggest American political debate since the 2016 presidential campaign is occurring over two nights in Miami, climaxing Thursday with former vice president Joe Biden squaring off against nine challengers, including number two candidate Bernie Sanders.

But Wednesday's first take was a spirited encounter between Democrats like ex-congressman Beto O'Rourke, Senator Cory Booker, former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on subjects as varied as health care, economic inequality, climate action, gun violence, Iran and immigration.

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Here are 4 winners and 9 losers from the first 2020 Democratic primary debate

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With ten candidates on stage Wednesday, the opening debate of the 2020 Democratic primary in Miami was a packed mess. And this was only the first course in a two-part event — 10 more candidates will debate on the following night.

A crowded field makes it difficult to stand out, and that means that even after a big night like a debate, the most likely result is that not much changes. But the debate was still significant, giving candidates the chance to exceed, meet, or fall below expectations for their performances.

Here's a list — necessarily subjective, of course — of the people who came out on the top when the dust was settled, and those who came out on the bottom.

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Here are 3 ways Julián Castro stood out in the first Democratic Debate

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There were many predictions going into the first Democratic debate on MSNBC, but no one predicted that Julián Castro would break out from the crowd.

Check out the top three ways Castro stood out from the crowd.

Immigration:

The former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development was the outright winner of the immigration section of the debate

It should "piss us all off," Castro said about the father and his little girl who were found face-down in the shores of the Rio Grande River this week. “It’s heartbreaking."

Castro is a second generation American who got into specifics on immigration policy, calling for an outright "Marshall Plan" style of action for Guatemala and Honduras. He joined with other Democrats calling for an end to President Donald Trump's family separation policy, but he then suggested ending the "metering" of legitimate asylum seekers.

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