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It's Happening: Clinton Bundler Tony Podesta Steps Down, Dissolves the Podesta Group

01 November, 2017, 00:40 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Dem lobbyist Podesta steps down amid Mueller scrutiny report

It's Tony Podesta who President Donald Trump is referring to as "the biggest story" one day after it was announced that former Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos face criminal charges as a result of the FBI investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The lobbying effort included outreach with members of Congress and their staffs as well as the pushing of a report commissioned by Ukraine's government to justify the prosecution and imprisonment of Yulia Tymoshenko, Yanukovych's political rival.

The indictment doesn't name the lobbying firms.

Additionally, Manafort kept in touch with Yanukovych, via verbal and written communications, and passed his instructions on to Gates to then pass on to the lobbying companies, the indictment alleged.

Spokesmen for Podesta and Mercury didn't return calls and emails seeking comment on whether they are Company A and B identified in the indictment. To cover up their connections with those firms, Gates developed "false talking points" he gave to Company B, according to the indictment.

The allegations come in the bombshell federal indictment in Washington, D.C., made public Monday as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.

They were accused of hiding foreign accounts from the US, failing to disclose their work for a foreign government and misrepresenting their work to authorities as recently as 2017, according to the indictment. Politico's sources said the transition has been in the works for the past several months.

Neither firm initially registered with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires firms that lobby or conduct public relations for foreign individuals, companies, governments and political parties to reveal detailed information about their work. Podesta, however, claims he was not aware that the ECMU was working for a foreign government and did not file a disclosure under FARA due to legal opinions attorneys gave him. The disclosures covered the period from April 2012 through April 2014.

The inquiry is reportedly into Podesta's work for the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, which was not disclosed until after payments from the group to Podesta's firm were discovered by the press. Those allegedly false claims included Manafort and Gates claiming that their lobbying for the Party of Regions "did not include meetings or outreach within the USA", according to the indictment.

The lobbyist, who is the brother John Podesta, chairman of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, also alerted clients of his impending departure.



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