FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller has issued grand jury subpoenas to executives of five public relations firms who worked with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort during a 2012-2014 lobbying effort for a pro-Ukraine think tank tied to former president Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych fled from Ukraine to Russia after he was unseated in a 2014 coup.
NBC News reports that two of the subpoenaed firms include Mercury LLC and the Podesta Group, founded by John and Tony Podesta and operated by the latter.
Manafort’s firm earned $17 million between 2012 – 2014 consulting for Yanukovych’s centrist, pro-Russia ‘Party of Regions.’ During the same period, Manafort oversaw a lobbying campaign for the pro-Russia “Centre for a Modern Ukraine,” a Brussels based think tank linked to Yanukovych which was pushing for Ukraine’s entry into the European Union.
The Podesta group, operating under Manafort, earned over $1.2 million as part of that effort.
Notably, visitor logs reveal that Tony Podesta visited the White House at least 114 times during the Obama administration according to White House visitor logs, and was said to have had ‘special access‘ to the administration through his brother, John Podesta, while lobbying for various pro-Kremlin interests.
During a 2015 interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, former president Obama admitted that his administration ‘brokered a deal‘ for the 2014 coup in Ukraine – all while John Podesta was a West Wing advisor and Tony Podesta lobbied for an organization which opposed the coup.
Podesta Group and Russia
While Robert Mueller’s investigation is ostensibly focused on the Trump campaign – conducting a surprise raid on Paul Manafort’s home last month in search of records linking him to Russia, it will be interesting to see if the Special Counsel chooses to delve into the bevy of documented ties between the the Podesta brothers and Russia.
For example, Russia’s Kremlin-owned Sberbank paid the Podesta group $170,000 over a 6 month period to lobby against 2014 economic sanctions by the Obama administration:
Podesta’s efforts were a key part of under-the-radar lobbying during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign led mainly by veteran Democratic strategists to remove sanctions against Sberbank and VTB Capital, Russia’s second largest bank.
The two Russian banks spent more than $700,000 in 2016 on Washington lobbyists as they sought to end the U.S. sanctions, according to Senate lobbying disclosure forms and documents filed with the Department of Justice.
The Podesta Group charged Sberbank $20,000 per month, plus expenses, on a contract from March through September 2016. –Daily Caller
In March of this year it was revealed that the Podesta group forgot to register as a “Foreign Agent” for their work with Sberbank.
Uranium One and Joule Unlimited
Hillary Clinton campaign manager and presumed Secretary of State John Podesta also sat on the board of Massachusetts energy company called Joule Unlimited, along with senior Russian official Anatoly Chubais and Russian oligarch Ruben Vardanyan – who was appointed by Vladimir Putin to the Russian economic council.
Two months after Podesta joined the board, Joule managed to raise $35 million from Putin’s Kremlin-backed investment fund Rusnano.
Not only did John Podesta fail to properly disclose this relationship before joining the Clinton Campaign, he transferred 75,000 shares of Joule to his daughter through a shell company using her address.
In an interview with CNBC’s Maria Bartaromo, Podesta denied that he failed to disclose his ties, emphatically stating “Maria, that’s not true. I fully disclosed and was completely compliant,” adding “I didn’t have any stock in any Russian company!” in reference to Massachusetts based Joule Unlimited – with its two Russian dignitaries on the board board and a $35 million loan from a Russian investment fund founded by Vladimir Putin.
Forgetting to file pesky disclosures
While the Podesta group and Paul Manafort both failed to file paperwork related to the Pro-Russia Centre for a Modern Ukraine, new retroactive disclosures filed by the Podesta group on August 17 reveal dozens of previously unreported communications with high level democrat officials related to the lobbying campaign – including Hillary Clinton’s State Department and the office of former Vice President Joe Biden.
In their defense, Podesta Group CEO Kimberly Fritts stated that “the firm relied on assurances from the think tank, the European Centre for Modern Ukraine, that it was not controlled or financed by a foreign government or political party. Based on that information, the firm disclosed its work to Congress rather than the Justice Deparment.”
Whether or not that’s true, it’s painfully obvious that the nebulous accusations levied against the Trump team can’t hold a candle to Kremlin-linked individuals who would have wielded massive influence in a Hillary Clinton White House.If you enjoy the content at iBankCoin, please follow us on Twitter