NBC News: Mueller investigating Tony Podesta and Podesta Group

FILE - In this June 21, 2017 file photo, special counsel Robert Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the election and possible connection to the Trump campaign, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (WFLA) — The special counsel looking into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia is now investigating Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group, according to an exclusive report from NBC News.

Several sources tell NBC News that Special Counsel Robert Mueller began the federal investigation into Podesta and his firm in relation to Mueller’s inquiry into the finances of Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman.

Tony Podesta, the Pennsylvania manager for the Kerry-Edwards campaign, speaks to Associated Press reporters in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2004. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

According to NBC News, Podesta’s company was one of many firms that worked on a public relations campaign organized by Manafort that promoted Ukraine’s image in the west.

The investigation into Podesta, which the sources say began as a “fact-finding mission” about the campaign and Manafort’s role, has now become a criminal inquiry that’s trying to determine whether the firm violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA.

According to the report from NBC News, people lobbying for foreign governments are required under FARA to file disclosures about spending and activities with the Justice Department. Failing to do so is a felony that can lead up to five years in prison.

NBC says both the Podesta Group and Manafort’s firm filed FARA registrations only after media reports surfaced.

Tony Podesta is the brother of Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign Chairman John Podesta. NBC News says John Podesta is not currently affiliated with the Podesta Group and is not part of Mueller’s investigation.

You can read the full exclusive report on the NBC News website.

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