In his search for another target now that two of his campaign aides face charges stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe and another has pleaded guilty, President Donald Trump landed on Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta.
Rather than repeating his calls to investigate a uranium deal carried out while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and links between the Clinton campaign and a dossier alleging ties between himself and Russia, Trump tweeted Tuesday morning about Podesta’s departure from his lobbying firm, the Podesta Group.
Scrutiny of Podesta stems from the Mueller probe’s focus on Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who was indicted for money laundering and failing to disclose lobbying work for a foreign entity, among other charges.
Manafort worked on behalf of a pro-Russia poltical party in Ukraine using an entity called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, according to the indictment. The Podesta Group also did work for the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, and the firm has been subpoenaed by Mueller’s probe, although it has not been charged with any wrongdoing. The firm has said that the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine told it no foreign government or party funded its work.
Trump’s focus on Podesta came after he and the White House downplayed indictments against Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates. The President distanced himself from the indictments by arguing that the charges stem from activities that took place before Manafort and Gates joined his campaign.