Mueller shifts to Tony Podesta, Democratic lobbying firm: report

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Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group, according to an NBC News report.

Mueller, who is leading the investigation into Russia’s attempts to meddle in the U.S. presidential election, is reportedly probing the firm to determine whether it violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) in its work for the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECFMU). The nonprofit ECFMU was part of a public relations campaign run by President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, to bolster Ukraine’s reputation.

{mosads} A spokesperson for the Podesta Group said in a statement to The Hill that the firm “fully disclosed its representation of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECFMU), and complied with FARA by filing under the lobbying disclosure act over five years ago and within weeks of starting our work.”

“Any insinuation to the contrary is false,” the spokesperson added.

“The Podesta Group has fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s office and taken every possible step to provide documentation that confirms compliance with the law,” the spokesperson said. “Based on our due diligence and on the recommendation of definitive legal experts, the firm immediately filed the appropriate public disclosures of its representation of the ECFMU over five years ago, and in eight subsequent public filings.

“The Podesta Group’s work for ECFMU, a non profit think tank, was in support of Ukraine’s admission to the EU, a position supported by foreign policy experts at the time. The ECFMU provided formal certification that it was neither funded by nor directed by a government or political party.”

Mueller reportedly issued grand jury subpoenas in August for the firms that worked on the public image campaign run by Manafort.

The Podesta Group altered its disclosure under FARA related to the non-profit following media reports, NBC News noted.

Tony Podesta’s brother is John Podesta, a veteran of the Clinton administration and the campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid. The siblings co-founded Podesta Group in 1988.

–This report was updated at 2:00 p.m.

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