The sudden fall of Washington’s ultimate powerbroker

Tony Podesta personified D.C. influence and wealth for decades. Then along came Robert Mueller.

Tony Podesta has epitomized the height of Washington influence and wealth for two decades.

He has a home in Washington a few doors down from Barack Obama, a villa in Italy, an apartment in New York and a multimillion-dollar art collection. He’s been a K Street rainmaker, holding fundraisers for the Democratic Party’s top elected officials and mingling with the most powerful liberals in the country. Last week, he attended Hillary Clinton’s 70th birthday party.

Some of the world’s largest companies — BAE Systems, Walmart and Lockheed Martin — have paid him piles of cash to represent them in the Capitol. His firm’s receipts reached nearly $30 million in 2010, and his company has swelled to nearly 60 employees.

But now, the 74-year-old D.C. fixture is showing this town that what took decades to build can implode in a day.

“There’s a lot of shock value because of who it is,” said Ivan Adler, a veteran headhunter at The McCormick Group. “His personality is mammoth enough, and it has all kinds of implications — I think it will cause people to really take a look at making sure they cross their t’s and dot their i’s, because you never know what could happen.”

Podesta announced Monday that he would be stepping down from the firm he founded in 1988 with his brother, John Podesta, amid reports that special counsel Robert Mueller could bring criminal charges against him and his firm. Mueller’s team is investigating work that Podesta did on behalf of Paul Manafort for a Ukrainian nonprofit.

Podesta’s move came the same day that former Donald Trump campaign aides Manafort and Rick Gates were indicted on multiple charges, including money laundering and operating as unregistered agents of the government of Ukraine. The Podesta Group was not named directly in the indictment, but it was one of two firms mentioned but not identified by name.

Podesta’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials, according to court records.

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