Published: Fri, April 12, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Ex-Obama WH counsel charged with lying in lobbying probe

Ex-Obama WH counsel charged with lying in lobbying probe

A spokesman for the US attorney's office declined to comment.

They came a day after Craig's lawyers said he expected to be charged in the probe, which spun off from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. He allegedly made the statements to Justice Department officials who were evaluating whether he should have registered as a foreign agent and in an interview with Mueller's prosecutors.

Mueller's team began the investigation into Craig but subsequently sent the matter to the Southern District of NY and then the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia for further consideration.

The scrutiny of Craig stems from an investigation of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his work on behalf of a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.

The indictment alleges that despite knowing federal requirements, Mr Craig did not want to register as a lobbyist for Ukraine "because he believed doing so could prevent him or others at the Law Firm from taking positions in the federal government in the future".

The civil settlement with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP laid much of the blame for the firm's conduct on Craig, who was a senior partner.

The charges were brought by prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office in D.C. and the Justice Department's National Security Division.

Greg Craig listens as President Barack Obama makes a surprise appearance during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, May 1, 2009. John Edwards and James Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was investigated and charged for leaking classified information. When he was employed with the firm in 2012, it was contracted to draft a report on the trial of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Prosecutors accuse Craig of lying about his work during this process, citing an email in which he allegedly told Skadden's general counsel that he did not disseminate the report, and that he did not "contact the media".

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"A truthful and complete FARA registration by CRAIG would have made a public record of the Private Ukrainian's role in funding the report, and the amounts he paid to the Law Firm", the indictment reads. The Ukrainian government reported Skadden was paid $12,000 for their services, but prosecutors say Manafort used an offshore account to help route more than $4 million to the firm.

In 2012 and 2013, the firm's work attracted the attention of the Justice Department, which sought to determine whether the firm should register under FARA.

When Skadden was asked by the Fara unit for information on its Ukraine work, the firm submitted a response signed by Craig that failed to disclose Craig's contacts with USA media on behalf of Ukraine as part of a public relations strategy.

Craig's lawyers challenged claims that he had lied to the government and said that he had not participated in a public relations effort.

In their statement Wednesday, Craig's attorneys said his work came "as an independent expert on the rule of law, not as an advocate for the client" and that he had refused requests to participate in Ukraine's lobbying.

The New York Times reported the project was directed to the firm by Manafort, who was a political consultant in the region at the time.

FARA is a decades-old law meant to allow Americans to know when foreign entities are trying to influence public opinion or policymakers.

Craig deliberately hid the true nature and compensation of his work for Ukraine in order to maximize the public relations value of the report he wrote for the Eastern European government, according to the indictment.

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