Ex-Obama WH counsel accused of lying about lobbying work

The US Department of Justice is expected to charge former White House counsel Gregory Craig in relation to work he did for the Ukraine government

Greg Craig, who served as former President Barack Obama's top White House lawyer, was charged on Thursday with lying about work he performed in 2012 for Ukraine in a case that grew out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation. The charges relate to his work with a law firm on behalf of the Ukrainian government.

Federal prosecutors said Mr. Craig should have registered as a foreign agent, saying his contacts with reporters on behalf of a Ukrainian official skirted foreign lobbying laws.

Craig, 74, faces up to 10 years in prison for charges of making false statements and violating a lobbying law.

The case against Craig stemmed from the wide-ranging probe overseen by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The work that drew the Justice Department's attention occurred in 2012, when Craig and Skadden were hired by the Ukrainian government to write a report on the prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko, a former Ukrainian prime minister.

In court documents, prosecutors accused Craig of failing to file as a lobbyist for his work in Ukraine in 2012 pursuant to FARA guidelines because "doing so could prevent him...from taking positions in the federal government in the future", among other reasons. The law firm also agreed to register retroactively as a foreign agent of the Ukrainian government. "I think we don't have to with this assignment, yes?"

The indictment says Craig repeated the problematic statements to the special counsel's office during an interview in October 2017. The case was investigated by the FBI's NY field office and is being prosecuted by the USA attorney's office in Washington, DC.

Craig is a prominent Washington attorney and was the first White House counsel to former President Barack Obama. Manafort is now serving more than seven years in prison resulting from two trials that came out of the Mueller probe. The 1938 law requires Americans to register with the Justice Department when they lobby or do public relations in the United States for foreign politicians, parties or governments.

The report was used by Yanukovych's government to justify Tymoshenko's pretrial detention to the European Court of Human Rights and influence US lawmakers.

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Manafort was apparently happy with Craig's work.

Greg Craig, a white house counsel under the Obama administration has been formally charged.

"Mr. Craig is not guilty of any charge", his attorneys said in a statement.

"Mr. Craig repeatedly refused requests that he participate in Ukraine's media and lobbying campaign to promote the Tymoshenko Report", they wrote. The false statements charge is the same one that Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought against numerous defendants during the Russian Federation probe.

The indictment says Craig withheld material information about his contacts with reporters who wrote about the report, and failed to disclose he had facilitated the hiring of a public relations firm that could craft strategy for the report's release.

Manafort was sentenced last month to 7 1/2 years in prison for foreign lobbying violations and financial crimes.

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

Another Skadden lawyer, Alex van der Zwaan, pleaded guilty past year to lying to investigators about the report.

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