Robert Mueller, special counsel for the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, just set his sights on Tony Podesta, the brother of Hillary Clinton's former campaign chair, and his lobbying firm, the Podesta Group.
Mueller, according to an NBC News report, is seeking to determine whether the agency contravened the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) while working for the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU), a nonprofit also linked to President Donald Trump's former campaign chair, Paul Manafort.
FARA, enacted in 1938, requires any American who works for foreign governments, leaders, or political groups to disclose their activities to the U.S. Department of Justice. Both Manafort and Podesta only complied with the regulation after media reports of their involvement with the ECMU.
The Podesta Group “is cooperating fully with the special counsel's office and has taken every possible step to provide documentation that confirms timely compliance,” a spokesperson for the firm told NBC.
“In all of our client engagements,” the statement continued, “the Podesta Group conducts due diligence and consults with appropriate legal experts to ensure compliance with disclosure regulations at all times — and we did so in this case.”
The intelligence community believes the ECMU is backed by the Party of Regions, a “pro-Russian and oligarch-funded Ukrainian political organization.”
In late August, Mueller's team sent subpoenas to six firms who were engaged in lobbying for the ECMU, a campaign intended to sway public opinion and garner positive press coverage.