Caught In Mueller Probe, Podesta Group Shuts Down

Caught In Mueller Probe, Podesta Group Shuts Down Promo Image

The Podesta Group, one of Washington's top lobbying firms, is reportedly shutting down after being caught up in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian interference into the 2016 election.

Kimberley Fritts, the group's chief executive, told employees Nov. 9 that the company will close by the end of 2017 and asked staff to clear their desks, according to CNN.

Sources suggested staff are unsure whether they will be paid beyond Nov. 15.

"The firm as it existed is essentially over," a Podesta Group staffer told Politico. "The vast majority of people are going their own way."

The company was set up over 30 years ago by Tony Podesta and his brother John, who left in 1993. John Podesta chaired Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in 2016.

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The Podesta Group was tied to charges against Paul Manafort, the former chair of Donald Trump's presidential campaign. The company was allegedly involved in Manafort's lobbying work for a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party. However, it did not report its lobbying on behalf of a foreign power.

Reports suggest that Tony Podesta could seek to maintain a presence as a lobbyist.

"He didn't say he was retiring. He didn't say he was resigning," a source familiar with the firm told CNN. "He's a prideful person. He built a very influential company over 30 years, and I think he believes he hasn't done anything wrong."

Fritts, who announced her resignation Nov. 9, plans to set up her own firm.

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"Tony and Kimberley worked together for 22 years," a spokesman for Podesta said, according to Politico. "He has tremendous affection, respect, and admiration for her and hopes that she and her team of former Podesta Group colleagues will build a firm that is even more successful than the Podesta Group."

Tony Podesta remains the owner of Podesta Group, even though he stepped down as chairman in the wake of the charges against Manafort. Staff members told Politico they have yet to hear from Podesta about the future.

A deal between Fritts and Podesta to transfer ownership of the firm reportedly fell through, prompting Fritts decision to leave.

"There's a lot of anger at Tony because of that," a staffer told Politico.

Other staffers told Politico they were angry at Fritts' decision to announce the launch of her new firm at the same meeting where some employees found out they would be out of work. One said it was "in poor taste."

"We walk into the room and there's champagne bottles and glasses in the room, as if it's a celebration," added another.

Sources: CNN, Politico / Featured Image: Ben Schumin/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Cliff/Wikimedia Commons, Martin Falbisoner/Wikimedia Commons

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