Former White House Counsel Greg Craig expects to be indicted in the coming days in connection to his work with convicted Trump aide Paul Manafort for the Ukrainian government in 2012, his attorneys told The Washington Post.
Craig served as President Obama’s between 2009 and 2010. He is the first prominent Democrat to be charged as a result of special counsel Bob Mueller’s Russia probe that also saw Manafort sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison on a slew of fraud charges.
After leaving the Obama administration, Craig went to work for the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. During that time he worked with Manafort on behalf of the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice in 2012.
Craig resigned from the firm last year amid allegations that he failed to register as a foreign lobbyist and then made false statements to the Justice Department in 2013 about that work, The Post reported.
Craig’s attorneys call probe “abuse”:
Craig’s attorneys called the expected charges a “misguided abuse of prosecutorial discretion,” The Post reported.
“Mr. Craig is not guilty of any charge,” the attorneys said in a statement.
But The Post reports that Craig’s firm was hired in 2012 by Ukraine to review the handling of the prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko, the main political rival to Putin-backed leader Viktor Yanukovich. Yanukovich was Manafort’s client.
“Human rights advocates alleged the report had been engineered by Yanukovych’s government and whitewashed the jailing of his political opponent,” The Post reported. “Manafort eventually admitted that he and other lobbyists used the Skadden report as part of a broad effort to improve Yanukovych’s reputation in the West, which had suffered after the widely condemned jailing of Tymoshenko. Manafort agreed they failed to disclose their lobbying effort, which included disseminating the Skadden report to U.S. government officials.”
DOJ reversed course in probe:
According to the report, a Justice Department official told Craig in 2014 that the government believed his firm had “no present obligation to register under FARA,” the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
But prosecutors digging into Manafort’s past began to scrutinize Craig’s work for the Ukrainian government again.
In January, Craig’s firm paid out $4.6 million as part of a settlement with the Justice Department. The firm admitted it should have registered for its work for the Ukrainian government in exchange for no criminal charges.
The settlement said the firm believed they did not need to register because of “false and misleading oral and written statements” made by Craig.
The case was referred by Mueller’s office to prosecutors in Manhattan last year.
Prosecutors are also looking at whether longtime Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta and former Republican congressman Vin Weber also violated the FARA law. Both were linked to Manafort’s work for Yanukovich.