- Gregory Craig, who was White House counsel under President Barack Obama, is indicted on charges of lying and hiding information related to his work for Ukraine.
- Craig, a 74-year-old lawyer based in Washington, D.C., is charged by the Justice Department’s Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, unit.
- The charges reportedly stem from the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election led by special counsel Robert Mueller, which came to a formal end last month.
Gregory Craig, who was White House counsel under President Barack Obama, was indicted Thursday on charges of lying and hiding information related to his work for Ukraine.
Craig, a 74-year-old lawyer based in Washington, D.C., was charged by the Justice Department’s Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, unit. Craig faces up to five years in prison for each of the two counts.
The chargesreportedlystem from the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election led by special counsel Robert Mueller, which came to a formal end last month.
In advance of the DOJ’s announcement, Craig’s attorneyssaid in a statement to news outletsthat their client’s case had already been put to rest by federal authorities in the Southern District of New York:
“This case was thoroughly investigated by the SDNY (Southern District of New York) and that office decided not to pursue charges against Mr. Craig,” the attorneys said.
“We expect an indictment by the DC US Attorney’s Office at the request of the National Security Division. 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 is charged with lying about the nature of the work that his law firm was doing for the Ukrainian government during an Oct. 19, 2017 interview with the special counsel’s office.
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That firm, Skadden Arps, was originally hired by the government of then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, a Kremlin ally, to prepare a formal report effectively justifying Yanukovich’s decision to prosecute and imprison his political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister.
The prosecution of Tymoshenko caused an international outrage at the time, and the Yanukovich government was eager for a Western law firm with a sterling reputation like Skadden to produce a report which it could share internationally, in an attempt to relieve some of the pressure it had come under from human rights groups and non-governmental organizations.
During the time that Skadden was working for the Yanukovich government in 2012 and 2013, the Justice Department approached the firm to inquire whether the work constituted foreign lobbying of the kind which would require that Skadden register as an agent of the Ukrainian government under FARA.
According to the indictment, Craig had emailed a law firm partner in February 2012 to ask: “I don’t want to register as a foreign agent under FARA. I think we don’t have to with this assignment, yes?”
In a settlement between Skadden and the Justice Department earlier this year, a senior partner who fit Craig’s description responded to the DOJ inquiry by allegedly making “false and misleading” statements about the nature of the firm’s work for Yanukovich. These statements were intended to avoid having to register the firm as a foreign agent.
Craig has reportedly been interviewed multiple times by Mueller’s team as part of its 22-month investigation into Russian election meddling, possible Kremlin collusion with the Trump campaign and possible obstruction of justice by PresidentDonald Trumphimself.
While the special counsel delivered the nearly 400-page report to the DOJ on March 22, some criminal cases lodged by the investigative team are still ongoing. Trump’s longtime confidant and ally Roger Stone, who was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges including lying to Congress and witness tampering, is currently awaiting the start of his trial on Nov. 5.
Read the full indictment below:
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.