Wednesday, August 14, 2019

An Unusual Glimpse At World Of Trump's Guilty Crowd - Sam Patten Writes Long Piece For Wired

Who's Sam Patten you ask.  Good question.  Even though I read Seth Abramson's Proof of Collusion, I didn't remember how Patten fit in.

When you read an article like this by someone who has pled guilty in presidential level political activities, you always have to take it with a grain of salt.  Well, maybe a whole salt shaker.  But while you're reading this with your crap detector turned high, you'll still get a sense of the wild world of international political consulting of a certain persuasion.  And there are lots of names  you'll recognize starting with Paul Manafort, Kilimnik, Yushchenko and Yanukovich,  and others whose names you've heard, but couldn't keep straight, and places like Kiev, Bagdad,  Moscow, and organizations such Cambridge Analytica.

The article offers some background context to the players and the games they play.  It begins in a courtroom where Patten is about to plead guilty.

"WHEN JUDGE AMY Berman Jackson emerged into the courtroom through a door cut seamlessly into the wooden veneer of the wall, she commanded my full attention.
I HAVE SERVED powerful women many times before in my life—senators, secretaries of state, opposition leaders—and knew how to bow before them. Today was a variation on the theme: I was here to plead guilty before Jackson to a federal felony.
I was so transfixed by her that I never stopped to think who was notably absent from the courtroom on that last day of August: my business partner Konstantin V. Kilimnik or, as I knew him, Kostya. In two weeks, his long-time boss Paul Manafort would stand in the very spot I did and do the same thing I was about to do.
Kostya was initially referred to in the American press as “Person A” in the government’s case against Manafort, the former chair of the 2016 Trump campaign. When prosecutors moved in February of this year to nullify Manafort’s cooperation agreement with them—because he violated the deal by lying about his contacts with Kostya—a lead prosecutor told Judge Jackson that Manafort’s lies went “very much to the heart of what the special counsel’s office is investigating.” In particular, the government asserted, Manafort had shared Trump polling data with Kostya, leaving many to wonder and speculate about why he might have done such a thing."

How many times can a Republican operative have served powerful women - he does mention working for Snow - and why do you have to bow before them?  Sounds, at best, patronizing.  Why is he making such a big deal about the judge being a woman in the first place?   But I don't know him.  Just doesn't sound right to me.

Much later in the article, he returns to Kiev.  In this paragraph he's justifying switching sides.  I can understand this as an earnest belief on his part, but I don't really know enough to do anything other than withhold judgment til I know more.

"This was not the first time I’d embroiled myself in this kind of complexity. In former Soviet Georgia I worked for then-president Mikheil Saakashvili’s party and helped it win a super majority in parliament in 2008, only to return to the country three years later to work for his opponents, who succeeded in ousting him. This was because the situation had changed and Saakashvili had, in my view and in that of a number of others, gone off the rails. My present circumstances might on first glance seem equally contradictory, given that they derive in large part from my involvement with figures close to Donald Trump—even though I voted for his opponent in 2016. Did I abandon my idealism? No. Politics isn’t about making statements, it’s about outcomes."
He's an idealist he says.  He's got a second wife and a son, yet he's traveling all over the world, apparently without them.  The thrill of the intrigue and being close to power seem to be the draw, and if he can justify he's doing it for idealistic reasons, well that makes it all easier, I guess to justify what he's doing.

"Kostya took me to Parus (meaning “sail”), a steel and glass high-rise that had sprung up in central Kyiv since my earlier sojourn, and we shot up to the 19th floor in an elevator that whistled and whined with the wind. A roll-up steel door (not charred, by contrast rather spiffy and high-tech) opened, and Lyovochkin’s security detail waved us into a glistening white conference room hovering like a spaceship high over the capital’s downtown.
Once we were settled in white leather revolving chairs and had been offered tea and chocolates by a secretary, Lyovochkin strode in, wearing a deconstructed blazer that accentuated his athletic frame. I started to introduce myself, but he waved his hand and said, 'No need, I know perfectly well who you are and,' glancing approvingly at Kostya, 'suspect you know why you’re here.'”
He's told us earlier that Lyovochkin was running the opposition bloc in the Ukraine. And what was he good at?
"In preparation, I had scribbled out the basis of a plan that I’d dubbed Operation Claw Back. It outlined a shift in narrative that called out our opponents for being opportunists with little concern for the people. Kostya handed it to him. Smiling, Lyovochkin glanced through it. “Perfect,” he said, “Let’s get to work.”
I immediately started making ads attacking our opponents. All in all I wrote maybe 20 scripts, about half of which were produced."

When we're online, we tend to just hit the surface of stories in the news and then there are six more that vie for our attention.

It's worth shutting down all the other tabs and just going into one area in depth.  Fill in some colors and landscapes and characters and get a sense of the world of intrigue Trump's entourage emerged from to assist him.  And get a sense of all the connections to Russia and Ukraine and other locations.


Yes, it's strange that in the title he uses both the first person (me) and the third person (Sam Patten) to refer to himself.  And he's also making it clear in the title that it's not his fault, Kostya made me do it.  While writers usually don't write their headlines, I suspect he had some say in this one.

I'd note too, that Macmillian offers a different perspective of the intrigues around Trump.  Here's a teaser from chapter 8 of Abramson's next book Proof of Conspiriacy.  This is not a first person account.  Abramson works from published stories in the media.  This excerpt has lots of Jared Kushner's relationship with MBS, the Saudi Prince.  I'm sure these two wealthy 30 something young men have lots in common and feel quite at home with each other.

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