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REPORT: Democratic Lobbyist Tony Podesta Investigated By Mueller

NBC News is reporting that Robert Mueller is currently investigating Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group, according to several sources familiar with the investigation.


If the name Podesta sounds familiar, it's because of Tony's brother, John Podesta, served as campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential bid. John is not part of the current investigation, however.

According to NBC News, the investigation grew out of an inquiry into Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, and his finances, specifically in regards to a non-profit called European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU).

Manafort was in charge of organizing a PR campaign for the non-profit to promote Ukraine's image in the West, and the Podesta Group is one of the several firms that worked on the campaign.

Originally said to be a fact-finding investigation, it has turned criminal, with Mueller's team attempting to figure out if the firm violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which requires people and firms who lobby for foreign governments to disclose detailed accounts of their activities and spending to the Justice Department.

While both Podesta's and Manafort's firms eventually filed reports, it wasn't until after their activities were called out by the media.

A spokeswoman for the Podesta Group said that the firm took steps to correctly file their report after the media scrutiny because the ECMU "had certified that it was neither funded nor directed by a foreign government or political party," which turned out not to be the case.

Secretly, the ECMU had been funded by the pro-Russian Party of Regions, which paid millions to Manafort's firm and employed Manafort as a consultant.

Many Trump supporters hope this is the smoking gun that will finally topple Hillary Clinton:

But others aren't so sure:

A statement from the Podesta Group said the firm "is cooperating fully with the Special Counsel's office and has taken every possible step to provide documentation that confirms timely compliance. In all of our client engagements, the Podesta Group conducts due diligence and consults with appropriate legal experts to ensure compliance with disclosure regulations at all times — and we did so in this case."

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H/T: NBC News, Twitter