WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tony Podesta, a powerful Democratic lobbyist, and brother of former Clinton campaign John Podesta, is now the subject of a federal investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, according to published reports.
Podesta, who became a subject of interest after inquiries regarding former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s finances came to light, was allegedly behind a PR campaign for a pro-Ukraine nonprofit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU). According to an NBC report, the campaign was backed by pro-Russia affiliates (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/mueller-now-investigating-democratic-lobbyist-tony-podesta-n812776).
Mueller, who is leading an investigation into alleged attempts by Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, is reportedly looking into whether Podesta and his company, The Podesta Group, violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) which “requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities” (https://www.fara.gov/0) .
In a statement released on Monday, a spokesperson for The Podesta Group claimed the organization was in compliance and “fully cooperating” with Mueller and his team of investigators.
“The Podesta Group fully disclosed its representation of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECFMU), and complied with FARA by filing under the lobbying disclosure act over five years ago and within weeks of starting our work,” the spokesperson said. “Any insinuation to the contrary is false. The Podesta Group has fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s office and taken every possible step to provide documentation that confirms compliance with the law. Based on our due diligence and on the recommendation of definitive legal experts, the firm immediately filed the appropriate public disclosures of its representation of the ECFMU over five years ago, and in eight subsequent public filings.”
Mueller issued grand jury subpoenas last August for the firms that worked on the public image campaign run by Manafort and although the interest was initially geared toward examining collusion on the part of President Trump, the latest findings in the investigation seem to indicate that it was Democrats, not Republicans, who worked closely to secure Russian interests.
According to a report published by Fox News (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/10/23/report-mueller-probe-expands-to-democratic-lobbyist-tony-podestas-russia-dealings.html) the House Oversight committee has started looking into the Obama-era deal in which a Russian-backed company bought a uranium firm with mines in the United States.
“I’ve spoken with the confidential informant that helped the FBI uncover this bribery scheme,” DeSantis, R-Fla., a member of the oversight committee, told Fox. “Clearly, it’s in the public’s interest that this individual be able to tell his story to Congress.”
When asked whether or not the recent revelations could mean charges against key members of the Obama administration, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, DeSatis responded: “It could be criminal. Yes.”
As reported on Monday by The Hill (http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/355749-fbi-uncovered-russian-bribery-plot-before-obama-administration), the FBI has “obtained an eyewitness account -backed by documents- indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation… during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow.”
Despite the mounting allegations against Clinton, the former Democratic candidate denies any wrongdoing.