Top Obama-linked lawyer on Mueller chopping block, could be first Dem indicted under probe

(Government works public domain)

A high-profile Democrat attorney who worked for former President Barack Obama may soon be charged by federal prosecutors for violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the same act that was used to justify some of the charges against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Attorney Gregory B. Craig, who served as Obama’s White House Counsel from 2009 to 2010 and as then-President Bill Clinton’s director of policy planning from 1997 to 1998, never disclosed work he’d performed in 2012 on behalf of then-Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovych, who as of 2019 is currently in exile in Russia and wanted by the Ukrainian government for treason.

While a partner at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Craig was hired by Manafort to write a report on Yanukovych’s behalf.

“Mr. Manafort arranged for the firm to be paid more than $5.2 million in 2012 and 2013, primarily from a Ukrainian oligarch,” The New York Times reported Monday.

“In exchange, a team led by Mr. Craig was to produce a report that Mr. Manafort intended to use to quell Western criticism of the prosecution and jailing by Mr. Yanukovych’s government of one of his rivals, the former Prime Minister Yulia V. Tymoshenko, and to train Ukrainian prosecutors handling matters related to the case.”

Craig and his partners at Skadden Arps performed this work without registering as foreign agents under FARA. While the Justice Department of then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch briefly looked into the matter in 2013, it dropped the issue in 2014 after Craig, an associate of Obama, argued that his work for Yanukovych didn’t apply to FARA.

The issue then disappeared until 2017, when special counsel Robert Mueller began digging into Manafort’s past lobbying efforts.

“The special counsel had subpoenaed or requested documents from Skadden Arps and two lobbying firms recruited by Mr. Manafort’s team to help build support for Mr. Yanukovych’s government, and Mr. Mueller’s investigators had interviewed people who worked with all three firms, including Mr. Craig,” the Times noted.

Much like in the case of Manafort, the special counsel eventually transferred the investigations into Skadden Arps and the two other lobbying firms (one of which is Tony Podesta’s Podesta Group) to federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

Fast forward to this past January, when the prosecutors in Manhattan transferred the Skadden Arps case to prosecutors in Washington.

These same prosecutors wound up reaching a settlement with the law firm. Skadden Arps agreed to register retroactively with the Justice Department as a foreign agent of Ukraine and to pay a $4.6 million fine, the same amount that the firm was paid for its consulting work.

Moreover, Skadden Arps reportedly threw Craig under the bus.

“The settlement accused Mr. Craig of working with Mr. Manafort to hide the funding from the Ukrainian oligarch for Skadden Arps’s work, and of making ‘false and misleading’ statements to other partners at the firm and the Justice Department,” the Times noted.

It was reportedly these false statements that led Lynch’s DOJ to drop the matter in 2014 and that may now lead to federal prosecutors slamming Craig with the hammer of justice.

What remains unclear though is whether the feds will indeed take action or instead let him off the hook just like former Democrat Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.


“A decision about whether to prosecute Mr. Craig … is expected in the coming weeks, people familiar with the case said,” the Times reported.

It’s unclear why the D.C.-based FARA team, which is reportedly being led by one of Mueller’s former associates in the Russia nvestigation, Brandon L.  Van Grack, is having such apparent difficulty deciding whether or not to prosecute Craig.

Federal prosecutors’ aggressive actions against Manafort demonstrated that they certainly have no qualms about reigning in Republican operatives. The former Trump campaign chairman was tarred, feathered and fed to the wolves for his violations of the FARA act.

His home was likewise  raided. So were the homes of the president’s former attorney Michael Cohen and his former campaign adviser Roger Stone.

As of March, Craig’s home had not been raided. Nor had the home of Podesta.



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