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.
Working on behalf of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine the Podesta Group lobbied in Washington for positions favored by the pro-Russian political party of which deposed former President Viktor Yanukovych was a member.
The lobbying work ended in 2014 after Yanukovych fled Ukraine for Russia – where he remains in exile.
In the statement released by the Podesta Group CEO Kimberley Fritts said the firm had retained counsel to investigate whether or not the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine had been operating as a front for the pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.
Lobbyists are required by law to register with the Justice Department if they are representing in the United States a foreign political leader or party and failure to register is a felony.