The Podesta Group, which was founded by brothers Tony and John Podesta, is threatening to sue Fox News host Tucker Carlson. John Podesta served as Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman.
Last week, Carlson reported, citing sources, that special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation was focusing on illegal foreign lobbying and that the Podesta Group was at the center of the investigation. Mueller's indictment against Paul Manafort revealed that the Podesta Group, along with one other company, worked heavily with Manafort as foreign agents to promote Russian interests in Ukraine. They did this through a fake firm called "European Centre for a Modern Ukraine."
On Monday, the same day Manafort was arrested, a lawyer for the Podesta Group wrote to Carlson and Fox News demanding they stop reporting on the Podesta Group.
"On behalf of Mr. Podesta, I write to demand that you and Fox News Channel immediately cease and desist disseminating false and misleading reports about Mr. Podesta and the Podesta Group," lawyer Geoffrey Garinther wrote, adding:
Your false and defamatory statements have cause damage and injury to the repudiation of Mr. Podesta and the Podesta Group. Many of the false statements are so obviously false or so easily subject to investigation that it is apparent you and Fox News Channel disseminated the false and defamatory statements either knowingly or with reckless disregard for whether the statements were true or not.
Garinther demanded that Carlson and Fox News take three actions by Friday:
- Immediately issue a retraction to the media stories in question;
- Remove the stories from all media sources; and
- Cease and desist disseminating "false and misleading statements about Mr. Podesta and the Podesta group."
The letter warns legal action will be taken if Carlson and Fox News don't comply. They also threatened legal action under the Copyright Act if Carlson or Fox made the letter public.
Tony Podesta resigned from his organization on Monday, the same day the Manafort connection was exposed.
How did Carlson respond?
On his Monday show, Carlson began with the Manafort indictment story, the Podesta Group connection, and the legal threat against him.
Carlson explained that he is not intimidated by the threat and that it was made only in an effort to control him:
Podesta’s lawyer wasn’t trying to inform us of anything — but to threaten us, to shut down our reporting on his client. One lawyer we talked to earlier today said the Podesta people have used this tactic with others before, it’s common. It’s an effort to use fear to control press coverage. We’re not intimidated, we have ample evidence from [special counsel Robert]Mueller’s indictment and from a number of confidential sources to paint a pretty clear picture of exactly what the Podesta Group was doing for years here in Washington. We’ll let the facts speak for themselves, and we’re confident the Mueller investigation will be revealing a lot more about Tony Podesta's lobbying practices in the near future.
Carlson concluded: "If you're looking for a summary of all of this, here's the one sentence Cliff Note to the whole affair: The chairman of one major presidential campaign colluded with the brother of the chairman of the other major presidential campaign to enrich themselves by secretly advancing the interests of a foreign adversary. That happened."