I’m going to apologize in advance for the cognitive dissonance this will cause the Trump loyalists, who have bought the “witch hunt” line, regarding Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
As Mueller winds through the maze that this investigation has morphed into, his current path has led him straight back to the Podesta Group.
I said recently, when the story broke of the Uranium One deal made with the Clintons and covered up by the Obama Justice Department that we, the people, appear to be beset on both sides by Russian influence into how our nation runs.
At this point, it’s beginning to look very much like Republican or Democrat, they’re both infested.
A new report from NBC News says that through the investigation into former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s finances, the Podesta Group and Tony Podesta, brother of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman, John Podesta, has been swept up in that net.
Manafort had organized a public relations campaign for a non-profit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU). Podesta’s company was one of many firms that worked on the campaign, which promoted Ukraine’s image in the West.
The sources said the investigation into Podesta and his company began as more of a fact-finding mission about the ECMU and Manafort’s role in the campaign, but has now morphed into a criminal inquiry into whether the firm violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, known as FARA.
As dictated by FARA, those who lobby on behalf of foreign governments, political parties, or leaders are required to file detailed disclosures with the U.S. Justice Department. Choosing not to file is a felony, which carries a potential 5-year prison term.
The Podesta Group filed a FARA because of their work for ECMU. They just didn’t file it in a timely manner.
In fact, they didn’t file it until the media had already uncovered and reported it.
Manafort’s firm worked for ECMU from 2012 to 2014 and neglected to file a FARA. In June, also after the media reported on it, they finally got around to filing.
The tie-in seems to be ECMU’s backing from the Party of Regions. The Party of Regions are the pro-Russian and oligarch-funded Ukrainian political party Manafort’s firm was connected to.
Viktor Yanukovych was the President of the Ukraine, and a client of Manafort’s from 2012 to 2014. He fled the country in 2014.
In a statement, a spokesman for the Podesta Group 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.”
Tony Podesta is the chairman of the Podesta Group.
Mueller’s team has sent subpoenas to six separate firms involved in public relations work for the ECMU in a campaign organized by Manafort, with the goal being to advocate for the Ukraine’s entrance into the European Union. Part of the campaign sought to solicit favorable coverage from U.S. newspapers, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.
Those interviews have already began, with several staff members of the various firms having sat with Mueller’s team.
Two of the firms, Podesta Group and Mercury LLC, worked in Washington with Manafort partner Rick Gates, according to lobbying disclosure records. Three other firms worked in Europe, the executive said. NBC News could not confirm the identity of those three.
To be clear, John Podesta has not been implicated in this arm of the investigation.
I’m beginning to think McCarthy had a point.