Podesta Quits as Mueller Indicts Manafort

Tony Podesta

Tony Podesta

Tony Podesta, founder of the Podesta Group and brother of former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, is resigning from his lobbying company.

Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta has announced the departure from his lobbying firm, the Podesta Group, according to Politico, citing multiple sources.

Podesta is handing over full operational and control to the firm's CEO Kimberley Fritts, according to the report. A person familiar with the meeting disclosed to Politico that Podesta said he "needs to fight this as an individual, but doesn't want the firm to fight it". The document redacted the firms' names but they are reportedly the Podesta Group and Mercury LLC.

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He also told staff members he "doesn't intend to go quietly, or learn how to play golf".

It was reported last week that Mueller's team is investigating the left-leaning Podesta Group and its founder, whom the Federal Bureau of Investigation believes breached the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) while working for the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU), a pro-Russian nonprofit also linked to Manafort.

Manafort and Gates chose two companies, identified as Company A and Company B in the indictment, to lobby on behalf of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a European nonprofit that officials say was created as a mouthpiece for the Party of Regions. The firm disclosed payments of $1.3 million for its Ukraine work.

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In 2012, the Podesta Group registered that it was working with the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECFMU), asserting in its filing with the Department of Justice (DOJ) that the group was not affiliated with any government.

The investigation started as a "fact-finding mission", but eventually became "a criminal inquiry into whether the firm violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, known as FARA".

The Podesta Group retroactively filed lobbying disclosures in April admitting their previously hidden Ukrainian lobbying activities. Among other issues, Mercury opposed congressional efforts to pressure Ukraine to release one of Yanukovych's political rivals from prison. The Podesta Group received $180,000 from Uranium One over several years between 2012 and 2015, according to records at opensecrets.org.

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