Democrats may not be so happy with Special Counsel Robert Mueller anymore. Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group are now the subjects of a federal investigation being led by Mueller. Podesta and his left-leaning lobbying firm are being investigated because of Mueller’s inquiry into the finances of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Manafort organized a public relations campaign for a non-profit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU). Tony Podesta’s company was one of several firms that worked with the campaign designed to promote Ukraine’s image in the West. The probe into Podesta and his company began as merely a fact-finding mission about the ECMU, but now it has moved into a criminal inquiry investigating whether the company violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, known as FARA.
According to FARA’s rules, those who lobby on behalf of foreign governments, leaders or political parties must file detailed disclosures about their spending and activities with the Justice Department. If you fail to submit the forms, it is a felony and can result in up to five years in prison.
Podesta’s company filed a FARA registration for their work with ECMU only after the payments were reported to the media. Manafort’s firm did the same thing in June after the media said reported on his activity in Ukraine from 2012 through 2014.
The ECMU was backed by the Party of Regions, which is a pro-Russian and oligarch-funded Ukrainian political party. Manafort worked with them as a consultant and was paid millions.
Tony Podesta serves as the chairman of the Podesta Group and is the brother of John Podesta. John was Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman. He is not currently affiliated with the Podesta Group and is not a focus in the Mueller investigation.
The Podesta Group gave a statement which said the firm “is cooperating fully with the Special Counsel’s office and has taken every possible step to provide documentation that confirms timely compliance. In all of our client engagements, the Podesta Group conducts due diligence and consults with appropriate legal experts to ensure compliance with disclosure regulations at all times — and we did so in this case.”
Manafort remains the key figure in the Mueller probe. FBI agents raided his Alexandria, Virginia apartment in July. The inquiry into his lobbying campaign is a segment of a more extensive investigation into his work for the Party of Regions, his offshore banking transactions, his tax compliance and his real estate dealings.
When the Associated Press first revealed the pro-Ukraine lobbying campaign in August of 2016, Manafort left his position of running the Trump campaign within days.
What do you make of Podesta being brought into the Mueller Probe?