Published: Tue, October 31, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Mueller Investigation Brings Down A Top Democratic Lobbyist

Mueller Investigation Brings Down A Top Democratic Lobbyist

Manafort, who served as President Trump's campaign manager last summer, was indicted by Mueller's team for several charges dating back to his work in Ukraine. The brothers had also sent emails to each other about India, which were not disclosed.

The Associated Press first revealed the pro-Ukraine lobbying campaign in August 2016, while Manafort was still running the Trump campaign.

Mueller, the special counsel overseeing the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation, initially began looking into the Podesta Group as a way to find information on Manafort's involvement with the ECMU; however, he soon began to investigate whether the group violated the Foreign Agents' Registration Act, which requires anyone doing political work on behalf of a foreign element in the U.S. to disclose that relationship to the United States government. While violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act is a felony, the law hasn't been strictly enforced.

Company A is Mercury Public Affairs and Company B is the Podesta Group, according to sources.

He said Garinther's letter also claims that Manafort did not work with the Podesta Group in its representation of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. "Mercury has and will continue to fully cooperate with the Office of the Special Counsel", he wrote. In the past three decades it's become one of the most profitable lobbying shops in D.C. While John spent most of his career in government, Tony gained influence as a bundler, hosting lavish fundraisers at his home in Kalorama and donating almost $1.2 million to Democratic candidates over the years.

Two of the firms, Podesta Group and Mercury LLC, worked in Washington with Manafort partner Rick Gates, according to lobbying disclosure records. Podesta is known for his art collection: he and his former wife, Heather, owned Shepard Fairey's famous "Hope" portrait of Barack Obama, which they donated to the National Portrait Gallery. Podesta announced his decision during a firm-wide meeting Monday morning, and has alerted clients of his impending departure.

Using identical language in those filings, both firms said that the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine had provided "written certification" that it was not controlled or financed by a foreign government or political party.

Podesta likely stepped down because he didn't want to inconvenience the firm any more-the Podesta Group has lost several clients and revenue streams since the Mueller investigation began. According to Monday's indictment, the center was created in 2012 and used by Manafort, Gates and others to conduct a public relations campaign in the USA and Europe on behalf of the Yanukovych regime.

In its statement, Mercury said it followed the advice of legal counsel in its disclosure of its relationship with the European Center and noted that it registered the relationship under less detailed congressional lobbying disclosure rules.

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