Posted by Curt on 6 November, 2017 at 9:53 am. 1 comment.


The Daily Caller:

Tony Podesta’s lobbying firm, the Podesta Group, represented the Russian-owned company Uranium One during former President Barack Obama’s administration and did not register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, The Daily Caller News Foundation has determined.

Podesta collected lobbying fees of $180,000 from Uranium One, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, that discloses lobbying documents filed with Congress. The uranium company states on its web site it is a “wholly owned subsidiary” of RUSANO, the Russian State Corporation for Nuclear Energy.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller already is scrutinizing Podesta and his firm for allegedly failing to register as a lobbyist for the European Center for a Modern Ukraine, a Ukrainian government entity.  His role there is tied up with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort who was indicted on 12 counts on Oct. 30, including the failure to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

A cabinet-led federal committee that included former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, approved the sale of Uranium One to RUSANO in 2010, that permitted Russia to acquire twenty percent of America’s uranium reserves.

The sale of Uranium One to Russia today is the subject of at least three separate congressional committee investigations trying to determine if Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation received large financial gifts from Russians and from Uranium One’s owner and CEO. The committees are trying to determine if the gifts paved the way for the sale.

The committees also are looking into new reports that an FBI informant obtained damaging criminal activity information on the Russian side of the sale which was never passed on to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CIFIUS), the cabinet-level committee that had to approve sales of U.S. companies and strategic assets to foreign countries.

The committees investigating Uranium One are the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Podesta Group lobbied on behalf of Uranium One for part of 2012 and in 2014 and 2015, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The Podesta Group was not listed as a lobbyist for Uranium One during its sale to ROSATOM in 2010.

The Podesta Group did not file under FARA during any of the years when it lobbied both Congress and the executive branch, according to the Justice Department website.

Reporting requirements under FARA demand far more rigorous public disclosure requirements — including contract information — than reports filed under congressional lobbying disclosure rules.

“The Podesta Group takes legal compliance seriously, and it complied with the law here,” a Podesta Group company spokesman told TheDCNF.

GOP Rep. Devin Nunes of Calif., who chairs the House intelligence committee, told TheDCNF he is concerned about the Podesta’s lobbying activities for Uranium One and its decision not to file under FARA.

“This would be yet another unusual and concerning development around the Uranium One issue that Congress will be looking into,” Nunes said in a statement.

The question of whether companies representing foreign government entities should file under FARA got a jolt on Oct. 30 when Mueller issued an indictmentof Manafort and Richard Gates, Manafort’s long-time business associate.

The Special Counsel’s action raised FARA compliance to a new level with his charge that Manafort  and Gates should have registered under FARA.

“From in and about and between 2008 and 2014, both dates being approximate and inclusive, within the District of Columbia and elsewhere, the defendants Paul J. Manafort, Jr., and Richard W. Gates III knowingly and willfully, without registering with the Attorney General as required by law, acted as agents of a foreign principal, to wit, the Government of Ukraine,” the indictment stated.

GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — another committee looking into the Uranium One sale — hailed Mueller’s decision to go after FARA violators.

“It’s good to see the Justice Department taking seriously its responsibility to enforce the Foreign Agents Registration Act,” Grassley said in a statement issued after the Manafort indictment. “I’ve been raising concerns about lackluster enforcement of this foreign influence disclosure law for years now, regardless of administration or political party.”

“The dirty little secret is that lots of people across the political spectrum in Washington have skirted their FARA registration obligations for years with little to no accountability,” he added.

The Podesta Group is referred to throughout the Manafort indictment as “Company B,” according to NBC News, citing three unnamed sources with knowledge of the investigation.

Mueller is “sending a signal” about getting tough on FARA enforcement, Scott MacGriff, who left the Justice Department last November after eight years as a fraud attorney and now serves the law firm of Dickinson Wright, told TheDCNF.

“It may be that Mueller is trying to send a signal that it’s no longer going to be observed in the breach and FARA filings can no longer be an afterthought,” MacGriff said in an interview with TheDCNF. “It’s a signal and a reminder that companies have an affirmative obligation to take a closer look at their responsibilities under FARA.”

Former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova agreed. “The FARA filings are very, very important as witnessed by the Manafort indictment. And they’re viewed that way now by the government apparently with some rigor,” he told TheDCNF.

The Special Counsel has subpoenaed Podesta to testify and has requested records from the Podesta Group, according to The New York Times. The Special Counsel’s office would not provide to TheDCNF deadlines facing Podesta and his company.

Feeling pressure from the Special Counsel’s deepening probe, however, on Oct 30 Podesta took the dramatic step to resign from the lobbying giant he co-founded with his brother John Podesta in 1988. His brother served as Hillary Clinton’s national 2016 campaign chairman, served as chief of staff in Bill Clinton’s White House and served as “special counselor” to Obama.

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