Ex-Obama White House counsel caught in Mueller-probe dragnet

Ex-Obama White House counsel caught in Mueller-probe dragnet

The Daily Mail described Greg Craig, 74, who was charged in a grand jury indictment resulting from an investigation that was sparked by spcial counsel Robert Mueller's "Russia" investigation, as an "otherwise nondescript public servant".

Craig's indictment had been expected for several weeks, with Craig's own lawyers saying Wednesday they anticipated such an outcome.

"I did not participate in a scheme to mislead the government or hide material facts", he said.

Instead, the charges were announced by federal prosecutors within the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia. The Justice Department has said it was Paul Manafort, who later became Trump's campaign manager, who arranged to hire Skadden to work for Ukraine.

The federal investigation began as an offshoot of the Mueller probe that was later handed off to Manhattan federal prosecutors.

Skadden produced the 187-page report at the behest of Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign who is now serving a 7 1/2-year prison sentence for lobbying violations and financial crimes.

The Ukrainian government executed a contract with Skadden, which stated that the law firm would be paid approximately $12,000 for its work.

The charges against Craig, who was White House counsel during the Obama administration, concern work he performed for Ukraine in 2012 while he was a partner at top law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

Craig is a prominent Washington attorney and was the first White House counsel to former President Barack Obama.

NBC News reported that Tony Podesta, the brother of John Podesta, former Clinton Campaign chairman, has also been under investigation for FARA violations.

While at Skadden, Mr. Craig was tapped to prepare a formal report justifying then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yankovich's prosecution of a political rival, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. The point of the report was to present an independent analysis of the Tymoshenko prosecution.

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 United States media on behalf of Ukraine as part of a public relations strategy. Pinchuk paid the firm $4 million for its work, according to Skadden filings made as part of its settlement.

According to the indictment, from the start of the work on the report, Craig didn't want to register as an agent for Ukraine "at least in part because he believed doing so could prevent him or others at [Skadden] from taking positions in the federal government in the future".

At the time, Manafort and the team of American lawyers and lobbyists working on the account never registered their activities with the Justice Department.

"You are 'THE MAN, '" he wrote Craig in an email after the report received favorable media coverage, according to the indictment. "I have been clear that we can not run close to the FARA line and if we were seen as hiring and directing [PR firm] we would be doing much more than just lawyering", he allegedly wrote in one May 2012 email.

Craig's efforts included backdating a letter and invoice to obscure that a private Ukrainian had funded the work and allowing the Ukrainian government to lie about how much the work cost, prosecutors said in a 22-page indictment filed Thursday. "D$3 uring an interview conducted by the Special Counsel's office, CRAIG repeated certain of the false and misleading statements he made to the FARA Unit concerning the timing and nature of his contacts with journalists about the Report".

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

"I was always honest about the reasons for my contacts with the media", Craig said in the video posted Thursday on Twitter.

After the Times published its story on the report, the Ukrainian government released it. Skadden responded to interview requests from two other USA publications. "I think we don't have to with this assignment, yes?"

Related Articles