An attorney for the White House under President Barack Obama has been indicted by the Trump Justice Department for allegedly lying about his lobbying work for a former Ukrainian president.
On Thursday DOJ charged former White House Counsel Greg Craig with two counts of making false statements regarding his connections to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
In a twist of irony, Craig’s alleged dealings were brought to light by FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, making him the first Democrat to be indicted as a result of the now-completed probe.
“The Washington-based lawyer was indicted by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for allegedly falsifying and concealing “material facts” and making false statements to the DOJ National Security Division’s Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) Unit, which is responsible for enforcing foreign lobbying laws,” reports Fox News.
“Craig allegedly made false statements to investigators looking into whether he appropriately registered foreign agent under FARA, which requires lobbyists to declare publicly if they represent foreign leaders, governments or their political parties.”
In the indictment [see below], Craig is quoted as asking a partner in a February 12 email: “I don’t want to register as a foreign agent under FARA. I think we don’t have to with this assignment, yes?”
Craig allegedly lobbied for Yanukovych in 2012 while he served as a partner at the Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom law firm, helping the ousted president write a report defending his government’s decision to prosecute the country’s former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko.
“Craig’s former law firm… reached a settlement with the Justice Department in January to resolve an investigation into the firm’s role in working on the Tymoshenko report and the subsequent public relations rollout,” reports Buzzfeed News. “The firm didn’t face criminal charges, but agreed to retroactively register as an agent for a foreign government and pay the US Treasury $4.6 million, representing the money the firm earned for its work.”
The settlement, Buzzfeed notes, cleared the firm as an entity, notably excluding individual partners who could later be charged.
The indictment charges Craig purposely avoided registering as a foreign agent for various purposes and benefits.
“The purpose of the scheme was for Craig to avoid registration as an agent of Ukraine,” the indictment reads. “Registration would require disclosure of the fact that Private Ukrainian had paid Craig and the Law Firm more than $4 million … [and] undermine the Report and Craig’s perceived independence; and impair the ability of Craig and others at the Law Firm to later return to government positions.”
According to Fox News,
Craig faces a total of up to 10 years in prison — up to five years and a possible $250,000 fine for allegedly willfully falsifying and concealing material facts from the FARA Unit, and another five years and $10,000 fine for making false and misleading statements to the FARA Unit.
“Mr. Craig is not guilty of any charge and the government’s stubborn insistence on prosecuting Mr. Craig is a misguided abuse of prosecutorial discretion,” Craig’s lawyers argued in a statement.
Each charge against Craig carries a maximum punishment of up to five years in prison.
Craig served as White House lawyer under President Barack Obama from 2009-2010 and previously served as assistant to the Bill Clinton White House, where he defended Clinton against impeachment.
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