Mueller’s team reportedly issues subpoenas to lobbying firms that worked with Flynn’s and Manafort’s consulting groups

Robert Mueller

AP Photo/Andrew

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has subpoenaed a number of
Washington lobbying firms as part of its investigation into
whether President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow to
tilt the 2016 election in his favor, The Washington Post reported on

The firms that were subpoenaed have been associated with
consulting firms led by former national security adviser Michael
Flynn and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Both Flynn
and Manafort are being scrutinized as part of the Russia

Manafort left the Trump campaign last August, and Flynn was
forced to resign as national security adviser in February, when
it emerged that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his
contacts with Sergey Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador to
the US.

The subpoenas come as both Flynn and Manafort face questions
about allegedly failing to disclose the lobbying work they did on
behalf of foreign governments, in violation of US federal

The Post reported that two of the subpoenas were issued to SGR
LLC and Mercury Public Affairs, citing sources familiar with the
matter. A lawyer representing SGR LLC confirmed to The Post that
the firm had received a subpoena, and people close to Mercury
Public Affairs said they had also received requests, though the
company declined to comment. 

Ukraine lobbying work

Mueller’s team reportedly asked Mercury about public relations
work it had conducted for the European Centre for a Modern
Ukraine at Manafort’s request. The organization’s stated goal is
to foster closer ties between Ukraine and the European Union, as
well as the United States. It was founded,
however, by Leonid Kozhara, a senior member of parliament for
Ukraine’s pro-Russia Party of Regions. 

Manafort is linked to the party through his time serving as
a top adviser to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a
pro-Russian strongman whom Manafort is widely credited with
helping win the presidency in 2010. 

Yanukovych was ousted in 2014 after widespread demonstrations
again this decision to back out of a deal with the EU that would
have distanced Ukraine from Russia and strengthened
ties with the West. Yanukovych fled to Russia amid the
protests, during which Ukrainian riot police opened fire on
thousands of demonstrators, and is now living under the
protection of the Kremlin.

Paul Manafort
this July 18, 2016, file photo, Trump campaign chairman Paul
Manafort walks around the convention floor before the opening
session of the Republican National Convention in

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster,

Ukrainian prosecutors have said Yanukovych ordered the security
forces’ attack on protesters, and at least one human-rights
lawyer representing the victims is investigating
what role, if any, Manafort played in encouraging
Yanukovych’s crackdown. 

Mercury worked with Podesta group — the lobbying firm led by John
Podesta’s brother, Anthony Podesta — on the Ukraine lobbying
project, and the firms did not register as foreign agents
at the time, saying they were working for a nonprofit and
not a foreign government or political party, The Post reported.
Both firms recently registered retroactively, however,
acknowledging that the Party of Regions benefited from their

Manafort has drawn increased scrutiny from the FBI in recent
months. The Washington Post reported that the
bureau conducted a predawn raid on his home in July, and
agents working with Mueller left Manafort’s home “with various

Manafort has been cooperating with investigators’ requests for
relevant documents. But the search warrant obtained by the FBI in
July indicates that Mueller managed to convince a federal judge
that Manafort would try to conceal or destroy documents
subpoenaed by a grand jury.

Turkey lobbying work

Mueller’s team subpoenaed SGR after Flynn’s lobbying firm,
Flynn Intel Group, hired the group to ostensibly “promote a good
business climate in Turkey,” The Post reported. Flynn’s firm
hired SGR as part of its work with a Dutch company with links to
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

Although Flynn’s group’s initial stated goal in hiring SGR was to
foster a stronger business climate in Turkey, it was later forced
to indicate that it brought SGR on to “raise concerns” to the US
about Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric currently living in exile
in Pennsylvania whom Erdogan has blamed for mounting a failed
coup against his government and fomenting dissent within

Michael Flynn

AP Photo/Carolyn

Flynn’s lobbying group has undertaken other efforts to discredit
Gulen and bolster Erdogan as well. The firm reportedly did not want
anyone to know that it was working on a
documentary commissioned by a Turkish businessman to help
Turkey’s image in the wake of last July’s failed

The businessman, Ekim Alptekin, paid the Flynn Intel Group over
$500,000 to produce a documentary about the dangers of
Gulen, he told The Wall Street
Journal in May. “We thought that might have
a good effect,” he added. The film was never finished. 

Flynn additionally raised eyebrows when
he wrote
an op-ed for The Hill, published on November 8, alleging
Gulen helmed a “vast global network” that had “all the right
markings to fit the description of a dangerous sleeper terror

In addition to being scrutinized as part of Mueller’s probe into
whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in 2016, Flynn is
also under a separate FBI investigation for privately working as
a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the 2016 campaign. Flynn
informed the Trump transition team of the investigation in early
January, weeks before Trump was inaugurated.

He did not resign until mid-February, after it was reported that
he had discussed US sanctions against Russia with Kislyak during
the transition period and misled Pence about the

Flynn has asked for immunity from prosecution from the
bureau and the House and Senate intelligence committees in
exchange for his testimony. It is unclear whether the FBI has
granted Flynn immunity, but the intelligence committees have
ruled it out.

Natasha Bertrand contributed reporting.

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