There is no better example of how the swamp works than the plea agreement special counsel Robert Mueller reached with Paul Manafort yesterday.
The agreement calls for Manafort to cooperate with federal prosecutors on issues related to his lobbying efforts and his associates in those lobbying efforts.
Here’s where Manafort’s plea deal exposes just how the swamp works. Ostensibly a Republican, Manafort was partners with Tony Podesta of the Podesta Group (a well known Democrat-leaning lobbying organization) working on behalf of the Ukrainians.
For those feeding off the DC swamp, political ideology means nothing, especially when there’s money to be made.
There’s more. After all there was a lot of money being thrown around and someone has to be willing to take it.
The former CEO of Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign was John Podesta. He’s Tony’s brother and former partner in the Podesta Group. While John was no longer actively involved in the management of the Podesta Group it’s foolish to believe that, as Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff, he wasn’t running interference for brother Tony.
Cozy, eh? Wait it gets even cozier.
Mueller had previously referred Minnesota Republican, Rep. Vin Weber, who was a partner at Mercury Public Affairs, to NY prosecutors for possible FARA violations in connection with Tony Podesta.
Enough? It’s the swamp. There’s always more tentacles to the monsters trolling the swamp.
Let’s see. We need another Democrat to round out our lineup of crooked lobbyists and to make this lobbying effort look bipartisan. How about Greg Craig?
Craig has an outstanding pedigree and was a particularly attractive add to the team.
Craig served as assistant to the President and special counsel in the White House of President Bill Clinton, where he directed the team defending Clinton against impeachment. Craig also served as a senior advisor to Senator Edward Kennedy and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. In 2009 Craig was named White House Counsel under Obama.
Today, CNN is reporting that Federal prosecutors in New York are now weighing criminal charges against former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig as part of the Manafort investigation and whether Craig also failed to register as a foreign agent in violation of Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
No one, not Manafort, Podesta, Weber or Craig registered as lobbyists on behalf of foreign government as the law requires. Seriously?
And exactly who and what were this bipartisan coalition of swamp rats lobbying on behalf of?
Manafort had organized a public relations campaign for a non-profit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU). The Podesta’s company was one of many firms that worked on the campaign, which promoted Ukraine’s image in the West.
Had Mueller not been so intent on finding a way to take down President Trump most likely none of this would’ve ever become public. Just another day in the swamp.
But Mueller was growing desperate to flip someone against Trump and he figured that Manafort was his best bet.
It’s a near certainty he never meant to implicate so many of those who were counting on him for their protection.
The investigation into Podesta and his company began as more of a fact-finding mission about the ECMU and Manafort’s role in the campaign, but eventually morphed into a criminal inquiry into whether the Podesta Group violated FARA.
After being alerted to Mueller’s inquiry, Tony Podesta abruptly closed his lobbying group that had been perhaps the most lucrative and influential firm of its kind in Washington at the time. One wonders what Mueller told him and what records might’ve been destroyed since that time.
According to disclosure records, aside from the Podesta Group, Mercury LLC also worked with Manafort’s partner Rick Gates. Three other firms that worked in Europe have not been identified.