House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) has hired a campaign consultant who also lobbies on behalf of the head of a Russia propaganda outlet, even as he launches an extensive investigation into President Trump’s alleged Russia ties, according to a report.
The Daily Beast on Thursday reported that Nadler’s campaign consultant is Ezra Friedlander, a lobbyist and political consultant who runs outreach to the Orthodox Jewish community for Nadler’s campaign.
However, he is also a public-relations executive whose newest client is the wife of Kirill Vyshinsky, the head of Russian state news media outlet RIA Novosti’s Ukrainian arm.
That means Nadler has his own questionable ties to Russians, as well as that his campaign is paying a consultant that is doing lobbying work for a Russian propagandist.
The propagandist, Vyshinsky, is actually now in a Ukrainian jail, where he faces treason charges after Ukrainian security forces raided RIA Novosti’s offices in Kiev, according to the Daily Beast.
Ukrainian authorities have accused Vyshinsky of illegally fomenting support for the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 — which the U.S. strenuously opposed.
According to documents filed with the Justice Department, Vyshinsky’s wife Irina hired Friedlander’s firm in November 2018 to attempt to secure her husband’s release.
Friedlander said that neither RIA Novosti or any other independent entity is paying him for that work, according to the Daily Beast.
Friedlander frames his work for Vyshinsky as protecting a journalist — even though he works for Russian state media.
“Protecting the rights of journalists is so front and center to my core belief system,” Friedlander told the Daily Beast in an interview. “To me, if you’re a journalist and you make inquiries and you write and you report, that has to be encouraged. In all countries, and at all levels.”
The Beast notes:
“Though he frames it as an issue of press freedom, the Ukrainian government isn’t the only one to accuse Russian media of acting as a propaganda arm of the Kremlin. The U.S. intelligence community also concluded that ostensibly independent Russian-owned broadcasters were integral parts of Moscow’s American disinformation campaign in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.”
Friedlander denied ever lobbying Nadler on Vyshinsky’s behalf. However, he did hold other meetings on the Hill around the same time as his lobbying campaign on behalf of Vyshinsky, including with Republican Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC).
Friedlander said Vyshinsky’s case did not come up during those appointments.