Manfort firm, Podesta Group being investigated by Justice Department

The FBI is investigating work done by Paul Manafort and his firm for a former president of Ukraine. From CNN:

FBI and Justice Department prosecutors are conducting an investigation into possible US ties to alleged corruption of the former pro-Russian president of Ukraine, including the work of Paul Manafort’s firm, according to multiple US law enforcement officials.

The investigation is broad and is looking into whether US companies and the financial system were used to aid alleged corruption by the party of former president Viktor Yanukovych.

Manafort’s firm is said to not be the focus of the investigation (though that could presumably change). Another firm being looked at by Justice Department investigators is the Podesta Group, a lobbying group run by Tony Podesta. Tony is the brother of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.

The Podesta Group was hired by Manafort’s deputy Rick Gates to do lobbying for the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a group connected with the political party of Ukraine’s former president. None of the firms involved ever registered their work for as agents for a foreign government as required by law. Buzzfeed reports the Podesta Group has now lawyered up and issued this statement:

The firm has retained Caplin & Drysdale as independent, outside legal counsel to determine if we were misled by the Centre for a Modern Ukraine or any other individuals with regard to the Centre’s potential ties to foreign governments or political parties.

The Podesta Group tells Buzzfeed it relied on the written assurance of the European Centre that it was not being directed by a foreign government or party. However, Buzzfeed talked to a former Podesta Group employee who didn’t seem convinced:

“Of course they should have filed,” said one former Podesta Group employee. “There is zero chance they will do it retroactively. I can’t even imagine how awful it would be to file three years of reporting at the same time for a huge firm, many of whose principals have left.” The former employee said there was “no question” that the Podesta Group knew about the Ukraine connections.

Will this be the last we hear of this story before the election? The political intrigue is less pressing now that Manafort has resigned.