John Podesta's brother eyed in Russian Federation probe

Randolph Lopez
October 25, 2017

The Podesta Group represented ECMU while the non-profit countered the Obama administration's critical stance towards the Ukrainian government for jailing political opposition.

Mueller's prime mission, of course, is to ascertain whether Trump's campaign helped Russian Federation in its efforts to sway the 2016 presidential election.

According to Monday's NBC News report, Mueller's interest is in whether the firm violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a federal law that seeks to bring more transparency to foreign lobbying efforts in the U.S.

NBC says both the Podesta Group and Manafort's firm filed FARA registrations only after media reports surfaced.

The Podesta Group was founded by Tony and his brother John, though John - who went on to become Clinton's campaign chair - is no longer affiliated with the firm and is not part of Mueller's investigation, NBC News reported.

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It was reported in August that the six firms in the USA and overseas that had been working on the ECFMU campaign had been subpoenaed by Mueller's probe.

The news shows how Mueller's sprawling investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation has put pressure on well-heeled DC lobbying firms and highlights their often lax compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), a law requiring lobbyists who work for foreign governments to file reports with the Justice Department detailing their activity. The Podesta Group and Mercury did not respond to inquiries on Monday. In 2012, the firm disclosed 32 meetings, emails, and other communications it had with the State Department, at a time when Secretary of State Hillary Çlinton called the upcoming Ukrainian election "an important bellwether" to the country's commitment to democratic institutions.

A spokeswoman said the Podesta Group's original filing was submitted after the advice of legal experts because the ECMU "had certified that it was neither funded nor directed by a foreign government or political party". LDA forms are filed with Congress and are far less detailed. Through that organization, Manafort hired the Podesta Group and Mercury LLC to do public relations and lobbying work aimed at shielding Yanukovych from global condemnation for actions such as jailing political rivals. Yanukovych fled to Russian Federation in 2014 following mass protests that erupted after he obstructed the country's attempts to join the European Union.

"It's not plausible that they didn't know what the objective of their contract was", a former State Department official familiar with the region told the Daily Beast. The Podesta Group has said it is cooperating with the Justice Department.

"Now Mueller is investigating Tony Podesta - it will be John Podesta - and then Hillary", writes Republican activist Scott Presler. Manafort retroactively registered as a foreign agent in June 2017.

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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