The media is aswirl today with more revelations of Trump campaign chairman and alleged Russian mob fixer Paul Manafort’s role in the annexation of Crimea by Russia and his funneling Russian cash to US lobbying firms that then declined to disclose the fact that they were representing the interests of a foreign government.
While everyone is looking at Manafort, there is another player in this fiasco that should be catching our attention as well.
Donald Trump’s campaign chairman helped a pro-Russian governing party in Ukraine secretly route at least $2.2 million in payments to two prominent Washington lobbying firms in 2012, and did so in a way that effectively obscured the foreign political party’s efforts to influence U.S. policy.
The revelation, provided to The Associated Press by people directly knowledgeable about the effort, comes at a time when Trump has faced criticism for his friendly overtures to Russian President Vladimir Putin. It also casts new light on the business practices of campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
People with direct knowledge of Gates’ work said that, during the period when Gates and Manafort were consultants to the Ukraine president’s political party, Gates was also helping steer the advocacy work done by a pro-Yanukovych nonprofit that hired a pair of Washington lobbying firms, Podesta Group Inc. and Mercury LLC.
The name “Podesta Group” should reach out and grab you. It is run by long time Clinton consigliere John Podesta. The Podesta Group is essentially an arm of the Clinton Foundation and enjoys deep financial ties with Saudi Arabia and… wait for it… Russia:
A key gear in the Clinton machine that has sucked in hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying on behalf of the Saudi absolute monarchy has also worked for Russia’s biggest bank.
The Podesta Group is one of the most influential Democratic Party-linked lobbyists in the U.S. And it is headed by a top Hillary Clinton fundraiser who has been referred to as the “Hillary moneyman.”
Sberbank, the largest financial institution in Eastern Europe, hired the Podesta Group to help powder up its public image, The Observer reports.
The bank plays an enormous role in the Russian economy. It controls almost 30 percent of Russia’s aggregate banking assets, employs a quarter-million people and “is functionally an arm of the Kremlin, although it’s ostensibly a private institution,” The Observer notes.
Hillary Clinton herself is not directly implicated, just one of her biggest campaign bundlers. What is more important about the story, however, is not that it exposes some kind of nefarious Russian plot — as questionable “NSA spook” author John Schindler appears to suggest with Cold War-esque hand-wringing in his Observer article — but rather that the Clinton machine is ultimately loyal to the dollar and to the dollar alone. [Editor’s note, I’m not sure why the notion that Hillary Clinton is bought and paid for by Russian oligarchs with close ties to Vladimir Putin should make us feel better than her being owned by Putin himself.]
And when Russian-owned Uranium One needed someone to lobby the US State Department when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, who did they turn to? Well, John Podesta.
What we have is the sorry spectacle of both major party candidates being wholly-owned entities of the Russian Federation. In fact, if one were conspiracy minded and needed the plot for a thirller, one could even question the timing of the release of the toxic documents on Manafort and whether the Russian FSB had a hand in that. As I noted a while back, we already know Putin is the winner in this election and it would serve his purposes to damage both candidates before they are elected.