Influential GOP consultant with ties to Manafort resigns from DC firm

Influential Republican consultant and former Minnesota congressman Vin Weber resigned on Friday from Mercury LLC, a major DC consulting firm, amid ongoing scrutiny of his Ukranian lobbying efforts.

The Washington Post first reported Weber’s departure from the firm.

Weber’s resignation comes amid new attention his past work has received, and while an investigation into it appears to still be unresolved. He cited publicity surrounding his past work as a nuisance to current clients in a resignation letter to Mercury’s CEO Kieran Mahoney on Friday.

“As you know, there has been recent publicity relating to work that I did a number of years ago on behalf of a former client,” Weber wrote. “This publicity has become a distraction for me and for the important work that Mercury is doing for its clients. With sadness, I take this action to remove the distraction for Mercury’s clients and to focus my time and energy on protecting my reputation.”

Former special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors in 2018 referred inquiries on Weber and others involved in Ukrainian lobbying work with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, and other prosecutors have picked up legs of the Ukrainian case. Weber has not been charged with any crime, but another well-known Washingtonian and former White House counsel, Greg Craig, was charged for his actions related to the work and is currently nearing the end of his criminal trial next week.

Michael McKeon, a partner at Mercury, told CNN in a statement, “We respect Vin’s decision to resign from Mercury to focus his time and energy on protecting his reputation. He is an honorable man, a good friend and we wish him well.”

Mueller also referred his inquiry into Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta of the Podesta Group to the SDNY. Podesta, a well-known Democrat whose brother led Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, also hasn’t faced any criminal charges.

Representatives for Podesta and Mercury have previously said they cooperated with the Justice Department investigation.

A lawyer for Weber declined to comment on the resignation and on former Trump deputy campaign manager Rick Gates’ testimony last week in Craig’s trial. Craig is charged with not disclosing his work for the Ukrainian government.

Gates was asked if he told Weber and Podesta who the client actually was related to the Ukrainian public relations work around 2012. He had told them, Gates said, and didn’t lie to them. It was “the government of Ukraine,” he testified.

Manafort admitted in his plea last year that Podesta and Weber’s companies “understood that they were receiving direction” from the Ukrainian president and government. But Manafort and others had used a Brussels private business group to employ the two consulting and public relations companies so they would not in theory need to register as foreign lobbyists, Manafort previously admitted.

CNN’s Katelyn Polantz and Tammy Kupperman contributed to this report.