Tony Podesta, brother of former Hilary Clinton campaign chairman and UFO disclosure advocate John Podesta, has stepped down from his position as the head of The Podesta Group as he becomes a subject in the ongoing investigations of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. Podesta became a target for Mueller as a result of the investigation into former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s finances.
As Politico noted: Manafort organized a PR campaign on behalf of a nonprofit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. Podesta Group was one of several firms that were paid to do work on the PR campaign to promote Ukraine in the U.S. Podesta Group filed paperwork with the Justice Department in April stating that it had done work for the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine that also benefited the same Ukrainian political party that Manafort once advised.
Individuals and organizations lobbying on behalf of foreign governments, leaders or political parties are required to file detailed disclosures about their spending and activities with the DOJ. Last November, the Podesta Group told the Justice Department that it failed to file legally required disclosures of White House advocacy on behalf of India while NBC News has reported that The Podesta Group filed a FARA registration for its work with ECMU only after the payments were reported by the media.
The Podesta Group is not named in the new indictments, but the company is one of two indirectly referenced in the charges. Podesta and another lobbying firm, Mercury LLC, were working with Paul Manafort and his partner, Rick Gates, from 2012-2014 in the lobbying project designed to improve the image of the Ukrainian government. In the indictment they are referred to as “Company A and Company B,” according to people familiar with the companies’ involvement.
Manafort and Gates turned themselves in to federal authorities Monday while facing a 12-count indictment on a range of charges, including misleading the government about their secret work for a foreign government.
Later in the day, Podesta announced his resignation at a staff meeting at the Podesta Group’s Washington headquarters.
“It is impossible to run a public affairs firm while you are under attack by Fox News and the right wing media,” he told his former employees, according to a person familiar with his remarks.
Late Monday afternoon both Paul Manafort and Rick Gates submitted not guilty pleas.
Since Mueller and his team launched their investigations earlier this year, over a dozen of the Podesta Group’s lobbying clients have cut ties with the firm, while revenues have plunged from $6.1 million in the third quarter of 2016 to 5.2 million in the second quarter of 2017 to an estimated $4.8 million in the third quarter of 2017.