Ex-Obama White House counsel caught in Mueller dragnet

Published April 12, 2019, 9:51 AM

by AJ Siytangco

By Agence France-Presse

A prominent Washington attorney who worked in Barack Obama’s White House on Thursday became the first Democrat to face charges from Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling.

The US Department of Justice charged former White House counsel Gregory Craig in relation to work he did for the Ukrainian government (AFP Photo/MARK WILSON / MANILA BULLETIN)
The US Department of Justice charged former White House counsel Gregory Craig in relation to work he did for the Ukrainian government (AFP Photo/MARK WILSON / MANILA BULLETIN)

Greg Craig, 74, was charged with lying to investigators about his lobbying for the Russia-backed government of Ukraine, part of an operation that has already seen charges against three others, including President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The indictment said Craig made false statements and concealed information in relation to Justice Department requirements that he register as a lobbyist for a foreign government with the Foreign Agents Registration Act Unit.

As a partner with large international law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in 2012, after he left the White House, Craig was hired by the Ukraine government to boost its image after having put the former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko through a trial widely criticized by Western governments as politically motivated.

Prosecutors submitted evidence showing Craig knowingly avoided registering as a foreign agent and sought to hide the income he received for his work for Ukraine, including on producing and disseminating an “independent” report by Skadden that critics said whitewashed the treatment of Tymoshenko.

In April 2018 a Dutch lawyer working for Skadden, Alex van der Zwaan, was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a $20,000 fine after pleading guilty to lying to the Mueller investigation relating to his work for Ukraine together with Manafort and Manafort’s partner Rick Gates.

In January this year, Skadden agreed to pay $4.6 million to settle charges it lobbied illegally for Ukraine.

Craig, however, is fighting the charges. In a statement Wednesday he 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.

“Mr. Craig is not guilty of any charge,” they said.

 
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