Hillary Clinton, the Podesta Group and the Saudi Regime: A Fatal Ménage à Trois

If I told you that Democratic Party lobbyist Tony Podesta, whose brother John
Podesta chairs Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, is a registered foreign
agent on the Saudi government’s payroll, you’d probably think I was a Trump-thumping,
conspiratorial nutcase. But it’s true.

The lobby firm created by both Tony and John Podesta in 1988 receives $140,000
a month from the Saudi government, a government that beheads nonviolent dissidents,
uses torture to extract forced confessions, doesn’t allow women to drive, and
bombs schools, hospitals and residential neighborhoods in neighboring Yemen.

The Podesta Group’s March 2016
filing
, required under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, shows
that Tony Podesta himself oversees the Saudi account. At the same time, Tony
Podesta is also a top campaign contributor and bundler for Hillary Clinton.
So while one brother runs the campaign, the other brother funds it with earnings
that come, in part, from the Saudis.

John and Tony Podesta have been heavyweights in DC insider politics for decades.
John Podesta served as President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, founded the
influential DC think tank Center for American Progress (which regularly touts
Saudi “reforms
”), and was counselor to President Obama. Tony Podesta was
dubbed by The New York Times as “one of Washington’s biggest players
whose clients “are going to get a blueprint for how to succeed in official Washington.”

The brothers seem to have no problem mixing their roles into the same pot.
Tony Podesta held a Clinton campaign fundraiser
at his home featuring gourmet Italian food cooked by himself and his brother,
the campaign chairman. The fundraiser, by the way, came just days after Tony
Podesta filed his Saudi contract with the Justice Department, a contract that
included an initial “project fee” payment of $200,000.

The Saudis hired the Podesta Group in 2015 because it was getting hammered
in the press over civilian casualties from its airstrikes in Yemen and its crackdown
on political dissidents at home, including sentencing blogger Raif Badawi to
ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam.” Since then, Tony
Podesta’s fingerprints have been all over Saudi Arabia’s advocacy efforts in
Washington DC. When Saudi Arabia executed the prominent nonviolent Shia dissident
Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, causing protests throughout the Shia world and inflaming
sectarian divisions, The New York Times noted
that the Podesta Group provided the newspaper with a Saudi commentator who defended
the execution.

The Podesta-Clinton-Saudi connection should be seen in light of the recent
media exposes revealing the tawdry pay-to-play nature of the Clinton Foundation.
Top on the list of foreign donors to the foundation is Saudi Arabia, which contributed

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