Could Clinton Campaign Manager Get Implicated in Russia Probe?

An interesting little tidbit in this New York Times article about the DOJ — it’s not clear whether this is Mueller or something independent of that — investigation into a propaganda report ordered by Paul Manafort on behalf of a Ukrainian politician he was paid millions to represent.

Source: on a CC3.0 Creative Commons license.
Source: on a CC3.0 Creative Commons license.

Mr. Manafort played a central role in the effort to shield Mr. Yanukovych from international condemnation, according to consultants involved in the effort. He devised the strategy and recruited lobbyists, lawyers and public relations consultants from across the political spectrum, but left the day-to-day implementation of the campaign to others. Skadden’s report was one element of that strategy.

Its conclusions provided a counterpoint to international critics who said that Mr. Yanukovych’s government had prosecuted and convicted the former Ukrainian prime minister, Yulia V. Tymoshenko, on corruption charges in 2011 for political reasons and without sufficient evidence.

That kind of international consulting by American firms traditionally has not drawn much scrutiny from regulators or the media, but that has changed in the last year, thanks largely to Mr. Manafort’s role as Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman in 2016 after years collecting multimillion-dollar paydays from Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs and political parties.

As part of Mr. Mueller’s investigation, prosecutors last month issued grand jury subpoenas seeking testimony from officials from at least two lobbying and public relations firms that worked on the team Mr. Manafort assembled to plead Mr. Yanukovych’s case in Washington — Mercury Public Affairs and the Podesta Group, according to two people with direct knowledge of the subpoenas.

The Podesta group is owned by Anthony and John Podesta, both prominent Democrats. John Podesta was Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager last year and has long been one of the Clintons’ most vocal and effective allies. The Times article says that they don’t know whether this DOJ investigation is part of the probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller or not. It could be something the DOJ is doing to dig up dirt to use in defense of Trump, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a legitimate point to bring up.

This is a serious problem for prominent lobbyists and PR people from both parties. Representing repressive foreign governments and pleading their interests in the American media is something that pays extraordinarily well. Those tinpot dictators know that it can make a huge difference in American policy, which can have a major impact on everything from foreign aid to avoiding sanctions to even avoiding military action. The swamp is not limited to one party here.

Yanukovych has very close ties to Putin.

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