Podesta Group Plays Key Role In Manafort Indictment
The Podesta Group, a Democratic lobbying firm co-founded by Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, appears to play a central role in the indictments of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort.
From 2006 to 2014, Manafort and Richard Gates “engaged in a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign in the United States at the direction of [former Ukrainian President Victor] Yanukovych, the Party of Regions, and the government of Ukraine,” according to the indictment. The Party of Regions is a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party whose leader, Yanukovych, served as president from 2010 to 2014.
Manafort and Gates chose two companies, identified as Company A and Company B in the indictment, to lobby on behalf of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a European nonprofit that officials say was created as a mouthpiece for the Party of Regions. Previous news reports have indicated that the two companies are the Podesta Group and Mercury LLC.
The head of the Podesta Group, Tony Podesta, resigned from the group on Monday amid increasing attention from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian influence operations. Tony’s brother, John Podesta, served as Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair during the 2016 election.
The two companies were aware that they were lobbying on behalf of the Ukrainian government and worked with Manafort to conceal their foreign lobbying activities from the public, according to the indictment. (RELATED: Tucker BOMBSHELL: Podesta Group Is In Mueller’s ‘Crosshairs’ Over Russian Influence)
“Manafort repeatedly communicated in person and in writing with Yanukovych, and Gates passed on directions to Company A and Company B,” the indictment states.
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“At the direction of Manafort and Gates, Company A and Company B engaged in extensive lobbying,” the indictment adds. “Among other things, they lobbied multiple Members of Congress and their staffs about Ukraine sanctions, the validity of Ukrainian elections, and the propriety of Yanukovych’s imprisoning his presidential rival, Yulia Tymoshenko (who had served as Ukraine President prior to Yanukovych).”
The two companies received payments “solely through off-shore accounts associated with the Manafort-Gates entities,” according to the indictment.
The Podesta Group retroactively filed lobbying disclosures in April admitting their previously hidden Ukrainian lobbying activities.
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