Published: Fri, April 12, 2019
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Former White House counsel for Obama charged in Mueller-related case

Former White House counsel for Obama charged in Mueller-related case

The Justice Department began looking into Craig in connection with its investigation into former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his work on behalf of a Ukrainian political party in 2012. "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's attorneys said.

They came a day after Craig's lawyers said he expected to be charged in the probe, which spun off from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Craig, 74, is the first prominent Democratic figure to be charged as a result of a foreign lobbying investigation spun out of Mueller's investigation.

In a letter sent to the Justice Department in October 2013, and obtained by The Washington Post, Craig wrote that his media contacts came in response "to inaccuracies in US news reports" and that he was "in no way serving as an agent for Ukraine". The aim of the report, critics said, was to provide political cover for the prosecution.

Mr Craig's team has also noted that his work had been investigated before by the Southern District of NY, but no charges came out of the inquiry.

Veteran political operative Paul Manafort was sentenced in March to 7 1/2 years in prison for illicit foreign lobbying and other as part of Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.

According to the indictment, from the start of the work on the report, Craig didn't want to register as an agent for Ukraine "at least in part because he believed doing so could prevent him or others at [Skadden] from taking positions in the federal government in the future".

In a statement to news outlets on Wednesday, Craig's attorneys said they were anticipating an indictment but maintained he did not commit any wrongdoing.

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Manafort was sentenced in March to seven-and-a-half years in prison for lobbying violations and financial crimes.

Skadden in January reached a settlement with the justice department, admitting it should have registered, and agreed to turn over the fees it had earned in exchange for facing no criminal charges. The Ukrainian government reported Skadden was paid $12,000 for their services, but prosecutors say Manafort used an offshore account to help route more than $4 million to the firm.

Justice Department lawyer Andrew Weissmann, part of the team that prosecuted Manafort, later told a sentencing judge that "this deliberate effort to obscure the facts undermines our political discourse".

Under US law, all lobbyists for foreign governments must register with the department.

Craig's lawyers denied that he had lied about his activity. Manafort agreed they failed to disclose their lobbying effort, which included disseminating the Skadden report to US government officials.

According to the indictment, Craig covered up aspects of his work in order to avoid registering as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), a rarely enforced law that was enacted in 1938 to counter Nazi propaganda. Cartwright pleaded guilty to making false statements during a federal investigation.

It criticized Tymoshenko's behavior during the trial and concluded that her due-process rights had not been violated, but also said that she had been improperly imprisoned during the trial.

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