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).
Probe of Podesta grew out of Mueller inquiry into finances of @PaulManafort, according to @NBCNews sources. https://t.co/kvibT3AY63— Steve Herman (@Steve Herman)1508753633.0
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.
@BreitbartNews President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, received $17.1 million for his wor… https://t.co/IjDr8Yj5Jc— You really wanna do this? (@You really wanna do this?)1508787254.0
Many Trump supporters hope this is the smoking gun that will finally topple Hillary Clinton:
@BreitbartNews Crooked Hillary is a fair & just name for @HillaryClinton all her associates & affiliations seem to be crooked as well. Sad.— Joe Palladino (@Joe Palladino)1508788044.0
Tony Podesta, the brother of Hillary’s campaign chairman John Podesta, is now being investigated by Mueller. It was only a matter of time.— Only The Truth (@Only The Truth)1508759120.0
FBI Now Investigating "Tony Podesta", Brother Of John Who Lobbied For Uranium One & Other Russian Interests. Good T… https://t.co/m99npEHj5K— Deplorable🤠Rāzərbak (@Deplorable🤠Rāzərbak)1508759547.0
But others aren't so sure:
The best part of this is that Mueller is investigating Tony Podesta BECAUSE of his ties to Paul Manafort. This is in no way good for Reps.— Emilia (@Emilia)1508770162.0
Funny how now that Democratic Strategist Tony Podesta (brother of John) is under investigation by Robert Mueller, T… https://t.co/njH17Lcsvl— Ed Krassenstein (@Ed Krassenstein)1508758910.0
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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