Is Mueller turning a blind eye on Russia-tied democratic operatives?

· August 1, 2018  
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Robert Mueller glare
Tom Williams | Getty Images

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has referred the cases of three high-profile foreign lobbyists to federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York (SDNY). The referred parties include the Clinton-tied Democrat lobbyist Tony Podesta, Obama confidant and lawyer Greg Craig, and former Minnesota GOP Rep. Vin Weber. All three are being scrutinized over whether they complied with the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Tony Podesta is one of most powerful democrat lobbyists in Washington, D.C. He and his brother, John Podesta (who served as Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman and Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff) have long been close personal friends with the Clinton family.

Tony Podesta worked with Paul Manafort (who served a short stint as President Trump’s campaign chairman) to lobby for pro-Russia parties in Ukraine. Previous reports indicated that both he and Manafort were being investigated by Mueller for potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. It’s unclear why Mueller has decided to keep the Manafort case, while sending Podesta off to the Southern District of New York. The current charges that are being brought forward against Manafort have nothing to do with his activities in his short-lived role as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman.

Then there’s the case of Greg Craig, the Barack Obama confidant who served as the former president’s White House counsel. Craig was also known as an unofficial adviser on an array of domestic and foreign policy issues. After leaving the White House, Craig reportedly oversaw lobbying work for Ukrainian politicians. He supervised Dutch attorney Alex Van der Zwaan, who Mueller’s team recently secured a guilty plea from. Van der Zwaan admitted to making a false statement to investigators, and served 30 days in prison before being deported to the Netherlands.

Former Rep. Weber, the third person reportedly referred to the SDNY, led a Ukraine lobbying team at Mercury Public Affairs.

It’s currently unclear why Special Counsel Mueller has decided to refer these three cases away from his portfolio. However, it may be quite difficult for federal prosecutors to secure charges under FARA, given that the DOJ has only brought criminal charges for FARA violations just 7 times in the last 50 years.

Mueller supposedly has a mandate to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election. He has notably chosen to target only Trump campaign and transition team officials, while letting Russia-tied democratic operatives off the hook. The Trump advisers and officials targeted by Mueller have been accused of wrongdoing that falls entirely outside of the scope of his investigation. None of the Trump-tied officials who have been subject to charges under the Mueller probe have been charged with anything having to do with “collusion” with Russia, or matters related to the 2016 election.

The news comes amid the president’s increasing calls for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop Mueller’s Russia investigation.

On Wednesday morning, the president fired off several tweets demanding more of his attorney general, asking him to step up to the plate and defend the office of the presidency.


 


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Author: Jordan Schachtel

Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review and editor of The Dossier for CRTV. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.