Donald Trump says the 'biggest story yesterday' was something about John Podesta's brother and 'the swamp'

Three former Trump campaign officials were indicted on the same day

Tuesday 31 October 2017 15:26
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Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Donald Trump has said that he believes the "biggest" story on Monday - a day where three former members of his campaign team were indicted on a number of charges - was the fact that Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta stepped down from his firm amid the Robert Mueller-led Russia probe.

Mr Podesta has stepped down from the Podesta Group amid the indictments for Mr Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, his partner Rick Gates and separately, former foreign policy aide George Papadopolous.

Mr Podesta is brother of John Podesta, who served as chairman of the presidential campaign of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, and as a senior White House adviser to Democratic former President Barack Obama. Mr Trump has referred to both Ms Clinton and John Podesta as "crooked".

Mr Manafort, a longtime Republican operative, and Gates pleaded not guilty to a 12-count indictment with charges ranging from money laundering to acting as unregistered agents of Ukraine's former pro-Russian government.

As for Mr Papadopoulos, he is said to have been approached by people claiming ties to Russia and offering “dirt” on Ms Clinton in the form of thousands of emails, according to court documents unsealed Monday. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about the conversations and has been cooperating with investigators, the documents said.

The indictment against Mr Manafort and Gates listed two unnamed firms as “Company A” and “Company B” that lobbied several legislators on behalf of Ukraine at Mr Manafort's request. Podesta Group had worked with Mr Manafort in Ukraine, but the indictment did not name Podesta Group.

A spokesperson for the Podesta Group said after Mr Podesta stepped down that it had been in contact with investigators on special counsel Robert Mueller's team and was fully cooperating with the probe.

The spokesperson also said the Podesta Group fully complied with the law in disclosing its lobbying on behalf of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a group linked to Mr Manafort and named in the indictment.

Podesta Group filed lobbying disclosures with the Department of Justice in April and August saying it did work in 2012 for the same pro-Russian Ukrainian group for which Mr Manafort had worked. Podesta Group work alongside another Washington lobbying firm, Mercury LLC, which also said on Monday that it was cooperating with Mr Mueller's team.

No charges have been filed against anyone with Podesta Group or Mercury.

Trump-Russia investigation: who has been charged in the Mueller probe

Tony Podesta did not respond to requests for comment. Mr Podesta was the head of the firm that bore his name. It did $10.7 million in lobbying in the first nine months of 2017, according to disclosures the firm filed with the U.S. Congress.

Mr Mueller's team has been investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign, but neither Trump nor the campaign were mentioned in the indictment against Mr Manafort and Mr Gates.

While Podesta Group is seen as a mainly Democratic lobbying firm, Mercury is viewed as mainly a Republican shop. Mercury is a subsidiary of Omnicom Group and does public relations work in addition to lobbying. Omnicom did not reply to a request for comment.

Reuters

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