No One Mentions That The Russian Trail Leads To Democratic Lobbyists
K Street lobbyists are the symbol of Washington influence-peddling as they push government for favors, subsidies, exemptions, and other special treatment for their clients. Their customers include, in addition to domestic clients, foreign governments, oligarchs, fugitive speculators, and a rogue’s gallery of questionable figures. Washington lobbyists trade on their access to power. Many are former administration officials or members of Congress. If Trump fulfills his promise to “drain the swamp,” these influence peddlers would have nothing to sell. They are under attack.
The media has focused not on K Street but on the Russian ties of President Donald Trump’s associates. They list the reprehensible Kremlin-associated figures for whom members of his inner circle worked, the most notorious being Viktor Yanukovich, the deposed president of Ukraine, and fugitive oligarch, Dymtro Firtash. But both of these “repulsive” figures were also advised by Democratic top dogs, who likely earned large multiples of what the “small fry” Trump associates took home.
In pushing its Manchurian-candidate-Trump narrative, the media fail to mention the much deeper ties of Democratic lobbyists to Russia. Don’t worry, the media seems to say: Even though they are representing Russia, the lobbyists are good upstanding citizens, not like the Trump people. They can be trusted with such delicate matters.
The media targeted former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort, for consulting for deposed Ukrainian president’s (Yanukovich’s) Party of the Regions. He also worked for billionaire oligarch, Firtash, who stands accused of skimming billions in the Ukraine gas trade in league with Russian oligarchs. The media also singled out Trump’s former national security advisor, General Michael Flynn, for attending a dinner with Putin and appearing on Russia’s foreign propaganda network RT. Trump’s own Russian ties were the subject of intense media coverage of an unverified opposition-research reportpurportedly prepared by an ex-British spy, who remains in hiding. It seems no enterprising reporter has tried to find him.
The media’s focus on Trump’s Russian connections ignores the much more extensive and lucrative business relationships of top Democrats with Kremlin-associated oligarchs and companies. Thanks to the Panama Papers, we know that the Podesta Group (founded by John Podesta’s brother, Tony) lobbied for Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank. “Sberbank is the Kremlin, they don’t do anything major without Putin’s go-ahead, and they don’t tell him ‘no’ either,” explained a retired senior U.S. intelligence official. According to a Reuters report, Tony Podesta was “among the high-profile lobbyists registered to represent organizations backing Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.” Among these was the European Center, which paid Podesta $900,000 for his lobbying.