Offbeat: Former lobbyist Tony Podesta, others under investigation over alleged foreign work - - PressFrom - US
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Offbeat Former lobbyist Tony Podesta, others under investigation over alleged foreign work

08:35  01 august  2018
08:35  01 august  2018 Source:   nbcnews.com

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Image: Tony PodestaIn this 2011 file photo, Heather and Tony Podesta (Chairman Podesta Group) attended an event to celebrate the marriage of lawyer Jack Einwechter to Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez on Aug. 2, 2011 in Washington.© Provided by NBCU News Group, a division of NBCUniversal Media LLC Image: Tony PodestaIn this 2011 file photo, Heather and Tony Podesta (Chairman Podesta Group) attended an event to celebrate the marriage of lawyer Jack Einwechter to Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez on Aug. 2, 2011 in Washington.

Former lobbyist Tony Podesta, Mercury Public Affairs partner and former Minnesota Republican Rep. Vin Weber and former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig are all under federal investigation by prosecutors for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, multiple sources with knowledge of the matter told NBC News on Tuesaday.

Exclusive: Mueller refers foreign agent inquiries to New York prosecutors

  Exclusive: Mueller refers foreign agent inquiries to New York prosecutors Special counsel Robert Mueller has referred a collection of cases to New York federal prosecutors concerning whether several high-profile American lobbyists and operatives failed to register their work as foreign agents, according to people familiar with the matter.Federal law requires that an entity representing a foreign political party or government file public reports detailing the relationship.

Those sources say this months-long investigation in New York follows a referral from the Special Counsel's Office.

The existence of this particular probe was first reported by CNN, which characterized the investigation as looking into whether lobbyists and operatives failed to register their work as foreign agents. None of the people identified as being investigated have been charged with any crime.

In October, NBC News was the first to report that Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group were being investigated by Mueller's office.

Tony Podesta is the chairman of the Podesta Group and the brother of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's former presidential campaign chairman. John Podesta is not currently affiliated with the Podesta Group and is not part of the investigation.

Mueller’s Digging Exposes Culture of Foreign Lobbying and Its Big Paydays

  Mueller’s Digging Exposes Culture of Foreign Lobbying and Its Big Paydays Robert S. Mueller III’s investigations of foreign money flowing into Washington could be as much a part of his legacy as anything he unearths about Russian election interference.WASHINGTON — The mandate given to Robert S. Mueller III and his team was broad: to investigate not just Russian election interference but also any related crimes they might unearth. So when this group of seasoned prosecutors began rooting around Washington, they pounced on a ripe target — lobbyists taking millions of dollars from foreign governments.

The probe of Tony Podesta and his Democratic-leaning lobbying firm grew out of Mueller's inquiry into the finances of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to the sources.

As special counsel, Mueller has been tasked with investigating any possible a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump has repeatedly denied any "collusion" took place.

Manafort had organized a public relations campaign for a non-profit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU). Podesta's company was one of many firms that worked on the campaign, which promoted Ukraine's image in the West.

Weber's firm, Mercury Public Affairs, has also been under investigation for possibly failing to file Foreign Agents Registration Act reports for their work with the ECMU and on behalf of Ukraine, NBC News has previously reported.

Separately, Craig, the former Obama White House Counsel, is under investigation as well, the sources said.

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Craig left his prior job at the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, after he and the firm became caught up in Mueller's investigation.

Alex van der Zwaan, who had been a lawyer in Skadden's London office, pleaded guilty to lying to prosecutors and the FBI about communications involving work the firm had been performing for the Russian-backed former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, whose party was paying Manafort and Manafort's former business partner, Rick Gates.

Craig was the senior partner overseeing a report produced by Skadden Arps about the prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko, a Yanukovych political rival.

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The WikiLeaks founder is considering an offer by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, his lawyer said.WikiLeaks published a letter from the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday that asked Assange to make himself available to testify in person at a closed hearing as part of its investigation into whether Moscow meddled to help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election.

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