Clinton-Connected Lobbying Firm Registers As Foreign Agent Of Pro-Putin Ukrainian Group
A lobbying firm closely allied with Hillary Clinton has registered as a foreign agent for a Ukrainian organization with ties to Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin.
Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, also plans to register with the Justice Department for work he did for the same group, the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine.
A spokesman for Manafort made the announcement just after the Associated Press reported that the Podesta Group has registered with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) for work done for the European Centre between 2012 and 2014.
The Podesta Group, which received $1.2 million for the work, is operated by Tony Podesta, a major Democratic donor and the brother of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
The AP first reported Manafort’s and Podesta Group’s work for the European Centre last summer. The group is reportedly controlled by Viktor Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine and a close ally of Putin’s. Manafort has done other consulting work for Yanukovych and reportedly oversaw that work done by Podesta Group and another lobbying firm, Mercury Public Affairs.
Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs, another lobbying firm that consulted for the European Centre, initially disclosed their work to the U.S. Senate under the Lobbying Disclosure Act. That law has fewer disclosure requirements than FARA.
The Podesta Group claimed last year that it did not register under FARA because the firm was assured by its partners that the European Centre was not working for or on behalf of a foreign government.
But a spokeswoman for the Podesta Group now tells the Associated Press that the firm is registering under FARA because of “information brought to light in recent months.”
This is not the first time the Podesta Group has been forced to register retroactively under FARA.
The firm registered under FARA in November for work it did for the Indian government in 2014 and 2015. Emails hacked from John Podesta’s Gmail account showed that Tony Podesta asked for help for a representative of the Indian government.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said that the former Trump adviser has been in discussions with federal authorities since before the election about registering under FARA.
“Mr. Manafort received formal guidance recently from the authorities and he is taking appropriate steps in response to the guidance. The work in question was widely known, concluded before Mr. Manafort began working with the Trump Campaign and was not conducted on behalf of the Russian government,” he said.
Manafort is currently at the center of a federal investigation into possible improper ties between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
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