Former Obama White House lawyer charged in foreign lobbying probe – National


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Former Obama White Home counsel Greg Craig was indicted Thursday on fees of creating false statements and concealing data in a federal international lobbying investigation that intersected with the Russia probe.

Craig, 74, was charged in a two-count indictment that accuses him of willfully concealing materials details from the Justice Division about work he carried out for the Ukrainian authorities. The indictment, introduced by the U.S. legal professional for the District of Columbia, got here a day after Craig’s legal professionals mentioned he anticipated to be charged within the probe spun off from particular counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

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In an announcement, his attorneys, William Taylor and William Murphy, mentioned, “Mr. Craig is just not responsible of any cost and the federal government’s cussed insistence on prosecuting Mr. Craig is a misguided abuse of prosecutorial discretion.” The legal professionals mentioned the Justice Division’s nationwide safety division pushed to indict Craig regardless of federal prosecutors in New York declining to convey fees, an assertion that couldn’t instantly be verified. A spokesman for the U.S. legal professional’s workplace declined to remark.

Craig’s indictment is a part of a Justice Division crackdown on unregistered international lobbying and consulting. Federal prosecutors in New York have been investigating two outstanding Washington lobbying corporations in an analogous probe, and Justice Division officers in Washington have been more and more keen to prosecute individuals who they consider deliberately conceal their lobbying work from the federal government.

The scrutiny of Craig stems from an investigation of former Trump marketing campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his work on behalf of a pro-Russian political celebration in Ukraine. The fees come about three months after Craig’s former regulation agency agreed to pay greater than $four.6 million and publicly acknowledge that it did not register with the federal government for its work for the Ukraine.

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The civil settlement with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP laid a lot of the blame for the agency’s conduct on Craig, who was a senior accomplice.

Craig, who is ready to seem in federal court docket Friday, is a outstanding Washington legal professional and was the primary White Home counsel to former President Barack Obama. In personal observe, his purchasers have included former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and James Cartwright, the previous vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Employees, who was charged in a leaks investigation. He additionally led President Invoice Clinton’s White Home authorized crew throughout his impeachment proceedings and defended Clinton throughout his Senate trial.

The work that drew the Justice Division’s consideration occurred in 2012, when Craig and Skadden had been employed by the Ukrainian authorities to put in writing a report on the prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko, a former Ukrainian prime minister. Tymoshenko was a political opponent of then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was a longtime Manafort patron.

The report was billed as impartial, however critics have mentioned it whitewashed a politically motivated prosecution.

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In its settlement earlier this 12 months, Skadden acknowledged it participated in a public relations marketing campaign for the report and will have registered beneath the Overseas Brokers Registration Act, or FARA. The agency additionally acknowledged it had been paid $four.6 million for the report and never simply $12,000, because the Ukrainian authorities had mentioned on the time.

The indictment made public Thursday says Craig didn’t wish to register beneath FARA as a result of doing so may hold him or others at his regulation agency from getting authorities positions and since the submitting would require him to reveal the hundreds of thousands paid from a “personal, rich Ukrainian.” The disclosures additionally would have undermined the authority of the supposedly impartial report.

To assist cover the personal funding, Craig is accused of backdating and falsifying invoices at Manafort’s request to make it seem the Ukrainian authorities was the only funder of the report.

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After the agency’s work attracted the eye of the Justice Division’s FARA unit in 2012 and 2013, the indictment says Craig misled officers about his interactions with reporters and his involvement with a public relations agency in securing information media protection about his regulation agency’s report.

When the Justice Division decided that Craig ought to register beneath the regulation, the indictment says, Craig resisted the thought. In an electronic mail titled “FARA,” Craig wrote that the agency didn’t proactively disseminate the report back to the media and as an alternative offered it upon request to 3 media retailers that requested for it.

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“The one time we responded, was to right misinformation,” Craig wrote. The agency then wrote a letter to the division’s FARA unit containing Craig’s false and deceptive statements, which finally allowed for him and the agency to keep away from registering, the indictment mentioned.

Years later, when the topic got here up once more through the Mueller probe, the indictment says Craig repeated a number of the similar lies throughout an October 2017 interview with the particular counsel’s crew.

WATCH: Donald Trump: I haven’t learn the Muller Report as a result of ‘I received’

Craig’s legal professionals deny that he lied to the federal government or his agency. They acknowledged that Craig spoke to reporters concerning the report however denied it was a part of a public relations marketing campaign that may run afoul of the regulation.

In an announcement Thursday, Taylor and Murphy referred to as the indictment “unfair and deceptive” and mentioned prosecutors ignored exculpatory proof. “Mr. Craig had no real interest in deceptive the FARA Unit as a result of he had not finished something that required his registration. That’s what this trial can be all about,” they wrote.

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FARA is a decades-old regulation meant to permit Individuals to know when international entities are attempting to affect public opinion or policymakers. The regulation, enacted in 1938 to unmask Nazi propaganda in the USA, requires folks to confide in the Justice Division after they advocate, foyer or carry out public relations work within the U.S. on behalf of a international authorities or political entity.

In the previous couple of years, the Justice Division has introduced a number of high-profile prosecutions involving FARA. That features a case in opposition to Manafort, who was just lately sentenced to greater than seven years in jail.

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