The Daily Caller recently reported about ties between the brother of John Podesta, the former campaign chairman for the Hillary Clinton Campaign, and a Chinese business. His brother, Tony Podesta, is also a Democratic super lobbyist that is well-known in Washington.
ZTE Corporation, a Chinese telecommunications business based in Shenzhen, pleaded guilty on March 7 to violating a shipping ban that has been in effect for 22 years.
According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Chinese corporation was found guilty of “conspiring by illegally shipping…U.S.-origin items to Iran, obstructing justice, and making a material false statement.” As a consequence, they were fined $1.19 billion, the largest fine on record in a U.S. sanctions case.
The Daily Caller News Investigative Group found that ZTE hired the Podesta Group, known for being one of the best lobbying groups in Washington D.C., in January 2016 to help resolve their criminal case with the DOJ. According to their findings, Tony Podesta personally helped the corporation during the most intense part of negotiations. He is literally getting rich off of checks from a Chinese business convicted of engaging in criminal activity.
Podesta first got involved with ZTE in 2013, encouraging the Departments of Defense and State to keep, “open and transparent markets in U.S.-China trade relations.” According to Reuters, it is estimated that Podesta was paid $1.44 million for his work.
Released documents show Podesta’s lobbying group grossed $35,000 a month in 2016 when negotiations between the Chinese business and the U.S. peaked. In total, the Podesta Group appears to have been paid $530,000 for their services. What’s worse, Podesta is still being paid by this criminal organization to lobby on their behalf.
The Daily Caller also reported that Podesta failed to report working with ZTE to the DOJ under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). FARA is a U.S. law passed in 1938 requiring anyone representing the interests of a foreign power to disclose their relationship.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Podesta has done this. Last year, he also failed to notify them he was working with Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, to fight against U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia. Over the course of six months, Sberbank paid Podesta $170,000 for his efforts.
ZTE broke several laws. The main law they knowingly violated was one prohibiting the shipment of goods containing U.S. origin items to Iran. Over the course of the investigation, they further violated the law by lying to federal investigators. Despite repeated assertions that they were not doing so, they shipped millions of dollars worth of U.S. items to Iran while their investigation was ongoing.
In total, it is estimated that ZTE shipped $32 million worth of U.S. items to Iran from January 2010 to January 2016.
The Chinese corporation also broke the law by attempting to hide data related to their business transactions involving Iran. However, when the counsel representing the business discovered what was going on, they immediately reported them to the U.S. government.
By continuing to take money from this criminal organization, Podesta makes his priorities clear. He’s willing to risk the lives of Americans if it means getting rich.
Taking money from questionable donors is not uncommon among liberals. A couple days ago, President Trump called for the House Intelligence Committee to investigate the Clintons in two tweets.
Why isn't the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia, Russian speech….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2017
…money to Bill, the Hillary Russian "reset," praise of Russia by Hillary, or Podesta Russian Company. Trump Russia story is a hoax. #MAGA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2017
Trump’s tweets refer to a report by the New York Times (NYT) and research done by Breitbart News Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer. Schweizer is the author of the NYT bestselling book, Clinton Cash. In the book, he reveals how foreign governments and businesses made the Clintons rich.
In the book, one case Schweizer describes involves a deal made between Uranium One, a Canadian-based nuclear energy company, and Rosatom, a state-run nuclear corporation in Russia. In order for the deal to go through, approval by Hillary Clinton’s State Department and eight other federal agencies was required. After getting approval, several executives at Uranium One suspiciously donated over $145 million to the Clinton Foundation. To make matters worse, the donations were not even properly disclosed.
In another case, Bill Clinton received $500,000 for giving a speech at “a Russian investment bank that had ties to the Kremlin.”
ZTE’s conviction was announced March 7 by United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney John R. Parker for the Northern District of Texas and FBI Assistant Director Bill Priestap for the Counterintelligence Division.
According to Sessions, “ZTE Corporation not only violated export controls that keep sensitive American technology out of the hands of hostile regimes like Iran’s – they lied to federal investigators and even deceived their own counsel and internal investigators about their illegal acts.”
“This plea agreement holds them accountable, and makes clear that our government will use every tool we have to punish companies who would violate our laws, obstruct justice and jeopardize our national security,” announced Sessions. “I am grateful to the Justice Department’s National Security Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas and the FBI for their outstanding work on this investigation.”
In response to the DOJ’s announcement, Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross stated, “we are putting the world on notice: The games are over. Those who flout our economic sanctions and export control laws will not go unpunished – they will suffer the harshest of consequences.”
The documents released by the Department of Commerce also described ties between ZTE executives and other countries with major embargoes, including North Korea, Syria, Sudan and Cuba.
This report comes just weeks after Trump signed an executive order restricting some forms of lobbying done by government officials. But Trump may not have gone far enough. It may be necessary for Trump to expand to push for expanded restrictions on lobbyists to prevent others from getting rich off of criminal organizations.