Former Obama White House Counsel Gregory Craig Indicted in Foreign Lobbying Probe

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 21: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) greets White House counsel Gregory Craig (L) during an event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House January 21, 2009 in Washington. Five executive orders requiring staffers to comply with strict new rules on governing lobbying, lobbyists and …
Alex Wong/Getty Images
JOSHUA CAPLAN

Former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig was indicted Thursday on false statement charges stemming from a foreign lobbying investigation into his work on behalf of Ukraine.

The Department of Justice charges Craig hid “material facts” and lied to the National Security Division’s Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) Unit in relation to legal work he did for Ukraine in 2012 after leaving the White House to join Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

The development comes after lawyers for Craig said Wednesday that they expected him to face federal charges in coming days linked to jailed lobbyist Paul Manafort, the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post reported.

“This case was thoroughly investigated by the SDNY and that office decided not to pursue charges against Mr. Craig. 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’s attorneys said.

Craig, who served as President Bill Clinton’s defense counsel and as counsel in then-President Barack Obama’s White House, resigned in April 2018 amid a probe into whether the firm failed to register as foreign lobbyists for his activities.

In January, Skadden 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.

In its settlement, Skadden said the firm had relied on “false and misleading oral and written statements” made by Craig, the Post reported sources close to the case as saying.

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.

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

Craig is the first prominent Democrat to be caught in the dragnet cast by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russia interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The AFP contributed to this report. 

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