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Democratic Lobbyist Tony Podesta Steps Down Amid Mueller Probe

Democratic Lobbyist Tony Podesta Steps Down Amid Mueller Probeā€

The Clinton associate's brother, Tony Podesta, chair of the left-leaning Podesta Group, stepped down Monday, following Mueller's indictment of Paul Manafort, who briefly served as President Donald Trump's campaign chair.

Podesta himself claims he was unaware he was working on behalf of Yanukovych, and did not disclose his firm's operations to federal regulators.

He is now being investigated by Mueller for failing to properly disclose these efforts to regulators.

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.

Two unnamed companies were solicited by Manafort and Gates, Manafort's longtime business partner, to engage in lobbying on the Hill on behalf of the Ukrainian government, with the Centre nominally being listed as their client, according to the indictment.

Podesta says he was quitting because of the criticism he's been getting over the special counsel investigation, according to The Washington Post, telling employees "it is impossible to run a public affairs firm while you are under attack by Fox News and the right wing media".

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Paul Manafort makes his way through television cameras as he walks from Federal District Court in Washington, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017.

Manafort was, among other things, indicted on charges of conspiring against the United States. Manafort worked for the Party of Regions, a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party whose president, Viktor Yanukovych, ruled Ukraine between 2010 and 2014. Because Manafort had been initially hired to elect Yanukovych, once he achieved this in 2010, he began a campaign to legitimize him in the eyes of the U.S. and the European Union by portraying him as angling to join the European bloc. There were six firms total, both in the USA and overseas, working on the effort, NBC News reported.

"They were pretty open about their objective being to give a positive perspective on the upcoming election", a former State Department employee told CNN.

"Mr. Podesta, a garrulous, gravelly voiced man known for his bold neckwear, is part of the elite group of lobbyists atop the industry who move easily between black-tie fund-raisers on Embassy Row and closed meetings on Capitol Hill".

The Podesta Group and Mercury said they relied on assurances provided by the nonprofit group that it was neither funded nor controlled by any foreign government or party.



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