Opinion

Tony Podesta May Be Mueller’s Next Big Target

Tony Podesta/YouTube screenshot United States Studies Centre

H. A. Goodman Freelance Writer

While the probe by Special counsel Robert Mueller was intended to investigate the alleged Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee, the former FBI director hasn’t found any Russian hackers. The closest Mueller has come to Vladimir Putin — in a media-driven investigation that even James Clapper admits has nothing to do directly with Trump — are “Russian hackers” Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. Both have been indicted for crimes that have no direct link to the president

However, any investigation into Tony Podesta and his lobbying organization, the Podesta Group, brings the Russia probe one step closer to Hillary Clinton. This, of course, was not the original intent of Mueller’s probe, but a closer look into this fabricated Russia scandal shows Clinton, Podesta, Obama and Democrats could be mired in a Russian uranium deal and tied to Russia.

Unlike Trump, Tony Podesta is the subject of a criminal investigation. First, the Podesta Group failed to register as a foreign agent when lobbying on behalf of Uranium One. This organization is linked directly to Russian interests, and the Podesta Group also lobbied for a pro-Putin Ukrainian think tank. Further, the Podesta Group lobbied for Uranium One, a company that was already owned by the Kremlin and eventually purchased 20 percent of U.S. uranium capacity under the Obama administration.

In addition, John Podesta’s brother also lobbied on behalf of a pro-Russian Ukrainian organization named the European Center for a Modern Ukraine. Oddly enough, this entity was referred to the Podesta Group by Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, as highlighted by Kenneth Vogel in The New York Times:

Tony Podesta, a prominent lobbyist and Democratic donor who has come under scrutiny from the escalating special counsel investigation, stepped down on Monday from the firm he co-founded, according to people familiar with the firm.

The firm, the Podesta Group, has lost clients as it has been increasingly drawn into the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. On Monday, the Podesta Group and another company with which it had worked, Mercury Public Affairs, were referenced — though not by name — in an indictment of two former Trump campaign officials, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates.

No charges have been brought against Mr. Podesta or officials from the Podesta Group or Mercury. But both firms have been subpoenaed  for records and testimony about their work on behalf of a client referred to them in 2012 by Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates, the European Center for a Modern Ukraine, a nonprofit group based in Brussels.

… Mr. Podesta announced his departure at a staff meeting on Monday. He is the brother of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman John Podesta, who co-founded the firm.

In addition to failing to register as a foreign agent, the Podesta Group lobbied for a company referred to it by two men who just received charges from Mueller’s probe.

Even CNN is turning on the Podesta Group, reporting that it will likely shut down by the end of the year. What’s interesting about this lobbying firm is that its activities completely undermine the narrative that Trump is a friend to Putin while Clinton and Democrats would be tougher on Russia. The Podesta Group lobbied on behalf of Uranium One, as a Russian energy official was involved in an FBI bribery and racketeering investigation, as explained by John Solomon and Alison Spann in The Hill:

FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal with Moscow

The first decision occurred in October 2010, when the State Department and government agencies on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States unanimously approved the partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to the Russian nuclear giant Rosatom, giving Moscow control of more than 20 percent of America’s uranium supply…

Then-Attorney General Eric Holder was among the Obama administration officials joining Hillary Clinton on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States at the time the Uranium One deal was approved. Multiple current and former government officials told The Hill they did not know whether the FBI or DOJ ever alerted committee members to the criminal activity they uncovered.

In 2015, a Russian energy official was convicted of bribery and other charges and sentenced to 48 months in prison, while from 2012 until 2015 the Podesta Group received tens of thousands in lobbying fees for Uranium One. Vadim Mikerin, the Tenex official sentenced to the prison term, worked for a subsidiary of Rosatom, the Russian energy entity that would buy Uranium One.

Why would Tony Podesta lobby on behalf of a company linked directly to a bribery and racketeering scandal? I explain in my latest book, “Debunking the Trump Russia Myth,” that yellow-cake uranium was being shipped out of the U.S. by Uranium One using the export licenses of trucking companies. The national security implications, as well as the fact Tony Podesta failed to register as lobbying on behalf of Russian interests (while an FBI bribery investigation unfolded), is more than enough reason for Mueller to charge Podesta and numerous others with crimes. What started as a probe into alleged Russian hacking has turned into a greater examination of Obama’s uranium deal with Russia.

Inevitably, Tony Podesta and the people who helped facilitate this national security nightmare will receive indictments.

A. Goodman is the author of “But Her Top Secret Emails” and “Debunking the Trump Russia Myth” and has been published in The Huffington Post, The Hill, Salon and other publications. He’s also appeared on CNN, MSNBC and RT numerous times discussing various political topics.