After Mueller indictments, Tony Podesta steps aside from namesake lobbying firm

Image Viktor Yanukovych

Beyond being mentioned in the Manafort indictment, it's not clear how large a role the Podesta Group - or Tony Podesta himself - will play in Mueller's investigation going forward.

One of the most powerful Democrat-linked families on K-Street continued to fight back Tuesday against the White House, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russian investigation and even Fox News for reporting on the spiraling probe. The Podesta Group was hired by the ECMU for a public affairs campaign put together by Paul Manafort, who was indicted on Monday morning on charges including failure to follow FARA requirements.

The Party of the Regions is a pro-Kremlin political base for Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russian Federation three years ago. Amid the "Panama Papers" leak emerged a Party of Regions ledger listing $12.7 million in cash payments for Manafort.

After being introduced to the lobbying firms, the European nonprofit paid the Podesta Group $1.13 million between June 2012 and April 2014 to lobby Congress, the White House National Security Council, the State Department and other federal agencies, according to USA lobbying records.

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Politico reports that Manafort organized a public relations campaign for a nonprofit organization called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECFMU) which benefited from a political party in Ukraine that Manafort once advised.

Both Manafort and the Podesta Group failed to register as lobbyists acting on behalf of a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

NBC News reported last week that Tony Podesta and the Podesta group had become subject of Mueller's probe into ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian Federation.

"Mr. Podesta, a garrulous, gravelly voiced man known for his bold neckwear, is part of the elite group of lobbyists atop the industry who move easily between black-tie fund-raisers on Embassy Row and closed meetings on Capitol Hill".

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The news was first reported by Politico. The meeting ended with a resounding ovation for Podesta.

Podesta will hand over full operational and financial control of the Podesta Group to CEO Kimberly Fritts.

Podesta, 74, is the founder and chairman of the Podesta Group, which has been described by The New York Times as "one of Washington's biggest players".

Podesta "was very magnanimous and said, 'This is an unbelievable group of people, '" a source told Politico, recalling Tony Podesta's remarks.

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In a Monday email to his staff, Podesta said he was stepping down because he "needs to fight this as an individual, but doesn't want the firm to fight it", a person familiar with the farewell speech said.

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