Tony Podesta and his Democratic lobbying firm, the Podesta Group, are now being investigated as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia, three sources with knowledge told NBC News.
Mueller’s investigators began looking into the Podesta Group after they discovered that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort worked with the firm on a pro-Ukrainian lobbying effort. What began as a cursory examination of the firm, designed to gauge Manafort’s level of involvement in the lobbying campaign, has become a criminal investigation into possible violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by the Podesta Group, sources told NBC News.
Manafort reportedly worked along side the Podesta Group for the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU), a nonprofit dedicated to increasing pro-Ukrainian sentiment in the west. Investigators are currently examining whether the lobbying firm violated FARA by failing to disclose their work for a foreign government. Both Manafort and the Podesta Group did not disclose their relationship with the ECMU until media reports exposed the arrangement.
The ECMU is reportedly backed by the party of Regions, a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party funded by oligarchs who paid Manafort’s firm millions.
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