Democratic Lobbyist Podesta Steps Down From Lobbying Firm Amid Mueller Scrutiny

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Tony Podesta, a longtime Democratic lobbyist, is stepping down from his  position at the Podesta Group, a lobbying firm he founded almost 30 years ago.

Podesta and his firm have been examined as part of a the federal investigation into the Russian interference in last year’s presidential election, run by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

CNN reports that a new firm will be created with his name. Politico first reported the news Monday afternoon. Kimberley Fritts, the CEO of the Podesta Group, will take over operational and financial control of the new firm.

Politico first reported the news of Podesta’s departure. The Podesta Group has been suffering since news broke that the Mueller investigation was looking at the firm.

News broke of Podesta’s departure the same day that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a close business associate, Richard Gates, were charged with 12 counts — including conspiracy against the U.S.

Prosecutors charge that Manafort and Gates tried to avoid foreign lobbying disclosure laws by working for a Brussels-based nonprofit, the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, which claimed it has no ties to Ukranian government officials.

The Podesta Group was lumped into the investigation because it worked for the same group from 2012 to 2014 and earned more than $1.2 million. The firm had lobbyists registered under domestic lobbying laws, which are less strict than laws for lobbyists who work for foreign governments or entities, but retroactively filed paperwork with the Department of Justice earlier this year to report the foreign lobbying.

Last week, news broke that Mueller was looking into the Podesta Group. In a statement to the NBC News the firm said it was cooperating with the special counsel’s office “and has taken every possible step to provide documentation that confirms timely compliance.”

In August, Mueller issued grand jury subpoenas to six public relations and lobbying firms who worked with Gates and Manfort.

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