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Podesta Group retains outside counsel over Manafort-related scandal

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A prominent D.C. lobbying firm has hired outside counsel over revelations that it may have been improperly involved in lobbying on behalf of pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians who also employed former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

As first reported by BuzzFeed, the Podesta Group announced Friday that it has retained law firm Caplin & Drysdale to investigate whether or not the lobbying firm unwittingly did work for the pro-Russian political party in Europe that also hired Manafort.

Although the Podesta Group was founded by Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, he has not been involved with the lobbying firm that bears his name for years. His brother, Tony Podesta, is currently chairman of the firm.

According to an Associated Press report, the controversy centers around Rick Gates, the Trump campaign’s liaison to the Republican National Committee and a Manafort ally who also did work for the pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. As part of his work for the Ukrainian political party, Gates connected the Podesta Group with the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a non-profit whose board originally contained Ukrainian members of parliament from the pro-Russian party.

Controversy surrounding Manafort’s ties to the pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians prompted his resignation on Friday, part of a larger campaign shakeup that included the hiring of a new campaign manager and campaign CEO. A New York Times story published last Sunday detailed how secret ledgers discovered in Kiev earmarked a total of $12.7 million in cash payments to be delivered to Manafort. The former Trump campaign chairman said he never received any such money. – READ MORE

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