Report: Amid Mueller Scrutiny, Tony Podesta Steps Down From Lobbying Firm

Tony Podesta (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
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Tony Podesta is stepping down from the lobbying giant The Podesta Group, Politico first reported Monday. NBC News also reported Podesta was stepping down.

The firm came under scrutiny for its undisclosed lobbying on behalf of the political party of the pro-Putin Ukranian leader, Viktor Yanukovych, the details of which were explored as part of Mueller’s probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 and a wide range of related matters.

Citing multiple sources with knowledge of a firm-wide meeting Monday morning, Politico reported that Podesta — the brother of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta — would hand over control of the firm to CEO Kimberley Fritts. Fritts and a “senior group of the Podesta team,” Politico reported, would be forming a new firm within days, the result of a reportedly months-long transition in the works.

NBC News reported last week, citing three unnamed sources with knowledge of the matter, that Tony Podesta had come under the scrutiny of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation for his and his firm’s failure to properly disclose lobbying in 2012-2014 on behalf of a Ukranian group, the European Centre For a Modern Ukraine (ECFMU), formed to represent the interests of Yanukovych and his political party, the Party of Regions.

According to NBC News’ report, Mueller’s interest in Podesta arose as part of fact-finding about Paul Manafort’s work for the Party of Regions: Manafort’s longtime business partner, Rick Gates, reportedly directed Podesta’s firm’s lobbying, as well as the Republican-leaning firm Mercury LLC’s lobbying, for ECFMU.

Manafort and Gates surrendered to the FBI on Monday, as 12 felony counts against the pair were unsealed. The charges included violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act, which regulates lobbying for foreign powers. The indictment called ECFMU a “mouth piece” for the Party of Regions.

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