The Podesta Group is headed for implosion in the wake of co-founder and chairman Tony Podesta’s sudden resignation last month.
On Thursday, CEO Kimberley Fritts told employees she was also resigning and would start her own firm, bringing clients and some Podesta Group talent with her, the Hill reported Friday.
Fritts reportedly said the Podesta Group would “cease to exist” at the end of the year, and employees were asked to clear their desks and told they may not be paid beyond this coming Wednesday but could have health care through the end of the year, according to CNN.
Podesta resigned October 30, the same day special counsel Robert Mueller’s team unveiled 12 charges against Paul Manafort and business partner Rick Gates related to lobbying work they did before joining the Trump campaign. They have pleaded not guilty.
Mueller is also investigating the Podesta Group for its lobbying work for a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party, organized by Manafort.
The firm was mentioned in the indictments of Manafort and Gates. According to the indictment, Mercury Public Affairs and the Podesta Group were paid $2 million from offshore accounts controlled by Manafort, and their work included lobbying “multiple members of Congress and their staffs about Ukraine sanctions, the validity of Ukraine elections,” and the reasons for imprisoning Yulia Tymoshenko, the political rival of Russian-backed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Mueller is reportedly investigating whether the Podesta Group properly identified to federal authorities it was lobbying on behalf of a foreign interest. The firm retroactively filed a disclosure after being questioned by the Justice Department.
Mueller’s team has interviewed “multiple people” from the Podesta Group, according to CNN. Podesta Group representatives have said the pro-Russian Ukrainian organization misrepresented itself.
The dismantlement of the Podesta Group marks a dramatic downfall of one of the most powerful lobbying firms in Washington, DC, founded by Podesta and brother, John Podesta, who was Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager.
Podesta has remained defiant, telling staff he “wouldn’t go quietly,” according to Politico.