A lobbyist from Mercury Public Affairs, LLC, a Paul Manafort-linked firm that drew prosecutors’ scrutiny during the Mueller investigation, was photographed with a key aide to the Ukrainian president Wednesday in Kyiv.
The Ukrainian outlet Ukrayinska Pravda published a photo of the lobbyist, Bryan Lanza, and the aide, Andrey Yermak, on Thursday.
— Українська правда ✌️ (@ukrpravda_news) November 14, 2019
Yermak has emerged as a key figure on the Ukrainian side of the impeachment saga, given his role interacting with several American officials who were pushing for Ukrainian investigations into Donald Trump’s political rivals.
Mercury, along with the Podesta Group, was reportedly under scrutiny over whether lobbyists there had properly followed foreign agent registration laws.
Vin Weber, the Republican former Minnesota congressman, resigned from the firm in August to “focus my time and energy on protecting my reputation,” he said, after the prosecutors’ scrutiny drew an unwanted spotlight.
Lanza, for his part, has lobbied on behalf of companies controlled by Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligarch whose businesses were sanctioned by the Trump administration in April 2018.
CNN reported in May last year that the former Trump campaign and transition team aide was lobbying for EN+ Group, the holding company Deripaska controlled and that was subject to harsh sanctions. (Technically, Lanza registered to lobby on behalf of Lord Barker of Battle, the British politician who’d been named chairman on the company.)
EN+ Group controls Rusal, one of the world’s biggest aluminum producers. As part of that work, the New York Times later reported, Lanza spoke regularly with White House staff and other administration officials.
By December, the U.S. government had reached a deal with Deripaska to lift the sanctions on the company, which was met with protests in Congress.