WASHINGTON — Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal on Monday blew off Paul Manafort’s connection to the Podesta Group — even though those ties were included in the grand jury indictment of the former Trump campaign chairman.
The Daily Caller asked Blumenthal if the involvement of the Podesta Group, a lobbying firm led by Tony Podesta, in the Manafort indictment could ensnare Clinton campaign due to the Podesta family’s close ties to Bill and Hillary.
“There is no real allegation in this indictment about the Clinton campaign,” Blumenthal, a member of the judiciary committee, said.
He went on, “And since these indictments involves Paul Manafort and others — conspiring against the United States, money laundering, fraud against the United States — these allegations involve potential collusion with the Russians, wholly independent of anybody in the Clinton campaign.”
TheDC pressed further, asking if he did not think it was pertinent that the Special Counsel was investigating the Podesta Group.
“Well that’s a separate issue and I’ve been asked about the Trump campaign,” Blumenthal responded.
Between 2006 and 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,” the indictment says. The Party of Regions is known as a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party and Yanukovych was its leader. He served as president from 2010 to 2014.
NBC News reported Monday night that sources said that “Company A” and “Company B” in the indictment turned out to be businesses Manafort and his long time business partner Richard Gates solicited in 2012 to lobby on behalf of the Ukranian government. Company A is Mercury Public Affairs and Company B is the Podesta Group.
The Podesta Group previously did not release its work under the Foreign Agents Registrant Act (FARA), saying they thought the group was not associated with the Ukrainian government, NBC noted.
The Podesta Group lobbied “multiple members of Congress and their staffs about Ukraine sanctions, the validity of Ukraine elections”
Tony Podesta stepped down from his position within the Podesta Group Monday. Politico reports the lobbying firm has taken a downturn financially amid the Special Counsel investigation. Over a dozen of its lobbying clients severed ties with them this year lobbying filings show.