The brother of Hilary Clinton's campaign chairman steps down as head of his lobbying group as Mueller's probe intensifies

  • Tony Podesta, John Podesta’s brother, stepped down as the head of a lobbying firm that is now under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
  • The Podesta Group failed to disclose its ties to a lobbying effort organised by Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, that was backed by the pro-Russia Ukrainian party of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.
  • John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chairman, testified in the House Russia probe, but is unaffiliated with the Podesta Group.

Tony Podesta, the brother of Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chairman John Podesta, has resigned from his position at his lobbying firm following his inclusion in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, Politico reported on Monday.

Podesta was the head of the Podesta Group, a lobbying organisation that was one of several firms that worked with the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU), a public relations campaign organised by President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort that reportedly aimed to bring Ukraine into the European Union, according to NBC News.

Mueller, the special counsel overseeing the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, initially began looking into the Podesta Group as a way to find information on Manafort’s involvement with the ECMU, however soon he began to investigate the group for allegedly violating the Foreign Agents’ Registration Act (FARA), which requires anyone doing political work on behalf of a foreign element in the US to disclose that relationship to the US government.

A spokesperson for the Podesta Group initially did not disclose its work with the ECMU to the FARA officials because the Centre “had certified that it was neither funded nor directed by a foreign government or political party,” according to NBC News. However the ECMU was in fact supported by the Party of Regions, the pro-Russia party of ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, for whom Manafort lobbied in the US. He did so allegedly without disclosing his activities to regulators, in violation of the FARA act.

NBC reports that after the Podesta Group’s financial dealings with the ECMU were highlighted in the media, the firm corrected its FARA disclosures.

Podesta’s brother, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, is not involved with the Podesta Group, although he did testify before the House of Representatives’ Russia investigation, which is separate from Mueller’s probe.

“They asked me to come forward to give to the best of my knowledge what I knew about that, and I was happy to cooperate with the committee in their investigation of Russian interference with the democratic process in the United States,” Podesta told reporters in June following his testimony.

John Podesta’s emails were among those leaked by Russian hackers following their entry into the servers of the Democratic National Committee in October 2016, Reuters reported. These same emails were often used as talking points by Trump on the 2016 campaign trail, and members of the Trump campaign staff, including policy advisor George Papadopoulos, expressed interest in obtaining such hacked emails from Russian officials previously in the campaign.

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