Hours after former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates were indicted on several counts on Monday, Democratic super-lobbyist Tony Podesta announced that he is stepping down from his firm, the Podesta Group. Tony Podesta is stepping down from his lobbying firm, after scrutiny from Mueller investigation:
That’s no coincidence. According to a report last week by Tom Winter and Julia Ainsley of NBC News, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Manafort’s foreign work before the campaign implicated Podesta’s own foreign work.
Specifically, both Podesta’s and Manafort’s firms represented a Ukrainian nonprofit group — the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine — between 2012 and 2014. This group was attempting to improve the image of the Ukrainian regime at the time, which was pro-Russian and under scrutiny for its treatment of their domestic opposition.
The indictment of Manafort and Gates does not mention the Podesta Group by name, but according to a new report by NBC News it is “Company B” here:
A report from CNN earlier this year described how the Podesta Group repeatedly contacted the State Department about Ukraine’s 2012 election, attempting to put a positive spin on the regime’s handling of the elections. However, and crucially, they didn’t disclose the full extent of their work in federal lobbying filings until earlier this year — and per NBC, that failure to disclose has caught Mueller’s attention. (A Podesta group spokesperson emailed me last week to insist that all appropriate legal disclosures were made.)
Tony Podesta is the brother of John Podesta, who chaired Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Though they co-founded the lobbying firm at issue — the Podesta Group — decades ago, John Podesta is no longer affiliated with the firm, and there’s no indication that he’s a subject of Mueller’s investigation.
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The revelation that Podesta is under the gun shows, essentially, that Mueller is broadly interpreting his authority to investigate “any matters” that “may arise directly from the investigation” into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.
It seems to make clear clear that Mueller is not only interested in Russia-related wrongdoing committed by Trump allies or Republicans, as some on the right have criticized him for.
Follow the money wherever it leads.