Indicted former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig said in a YouTube video published on Thursday that Clinton Foundation donor Victor Pinchuk “helped fund” the 2012 report he prepared for the Ukranian Ministry of Justice.
Craig’s actions surrounding the creation of that report and subsequent public communications about its contents are at the center of the charges filed against him on Thursday by the U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia that he made false statements to the Department of Justice in 2013 about whether he was required to register as a lobbyist under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
Here is a transcript of Craig’s complete statement on YouTube:
This case is about whether I misled the Department of Justice to avoid having to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
I did not.
In 2012, I headed up a team of lawyers that wrote an independent report for the Ministry of Justice and the government of Ukraine about the prosecution of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
It was Doug Schoen who brought this project to me, and he told me he was acting on behalf of Mr. Victor Pinchuk, who is a pro-Western Ukranian businessman, who helped fund the project. (emphasis added)
At the very start, we researched the requirements for registration under FARA, and we concluded that the law firm did not need to be registered
Our reports, when it was completed, was critical of important aspects of the trail, which we found to be flawed.
I never discussed the findings of our report with any U.S. officials. I certainly did not lobby any U.S officials on behalf of Ukraine. (emphasis added)
I did not help Ukraine promote its spin when it released our report.
When we met with FARA officials in the fall of 2013, ten months after the report had been released, I explained why my contact with The New York Times did not make me an agent of the government of Ukraine. My purpose in talking to The Times was to prevent mischaracterization of our report by the Ukraine and its public relations firm.
Several months later, the FARA unit of the Department of Justice made a formal determination agreeing with us.
I did not participate in a scheme to mislead the government or conceal material facts. I was always honest about the reason for my contacts with the media. This prosecution is unprecedented and unjustified.
I am confident that both the judge and the jury will agree with me.
Earlier reports indicated that the government of Ukraine paid Skadden Arps, the law firm Craig joined as a senior partner after leaving the Obama White House in 2010, just $12,000 for the report, but that an anonymous Ukrainian businessman, facilitated by Paul Manafort, paid the law firm an additional $4 million for those services.
Press reports indicate that at the time it received the $4 million payment in 2012 from a Ukranian businessman to complete the report for Ukraine’s Justice of Ministry, Skadden Arps, as well as senior partner Greg Craig, believed those funds originated from Victor Pinchuk.
According to the Clinton Foundation website, the Victor Pinchuk Foundation donated between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation. The Wall Street Journal reported that these donations came both before Hillary Clinton was named Secretary of State and during her four year term, between 2009 and 2013.
But in January 2019, Pinchuk denied that he paid for the Skadden Arps law firm to conduct the report for the Ukrainan government:
Steel magnate Victor Pinchuk was “understood” to be the Ukrainian businessman who funded a 2012 report whitewashing the prosecution of ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, according to the filings made by international law firm Skadden, Arps, Meagher, & Flom, which wrote the report, to the United States Department of Justice.
Pinchuk called the information “absolutely incorrect” in a statement released by his press office on Jan. 21.
“Mr. Pinchuk was not the source of any funds used to pay fees of Skadden in producing their report into the trial and conviction of Yulia Tymoshenko. He was in no way responsible for those costs,” the statement read. “Neither Mr. Pinchuk nor companies affiliated with him have ever been a client of Skadden. Mr. Pinchuk and his team had no role in the work done by Skadden, including in the preparation or dissemination of the Skadden report.”
Breitbart News contacted the Victor Pinchuk Foundation for comment on Mr. Craig’s statement that Mr. Pinchuk “helped fund” the Skadden Arps 2012 Ukraine report, but did not receive a response.
In Thursday’s YouTube statement, Craig made no mention of Victor Pinchuk’s substantial contributions to the Clinton Foundation, nor of his close personal and professional relationship with Bill and Hillary Clinton, which began more than 40 years ago in the 1970s when they were classmates in Yale Law School. Craig held a senior position in the Bill Clinton administration prior to his service as White House counsel in the Obama administration.
Craig resigned from Skadden Arps in April 2018. In January 2019, Craig’s former law firm, Skadden Arps, settled with the Department of Justice, agreeing to pay the federal government $4.6 million in restitution for failing to declare itself a registered foreign agent of the Ukraine government, as required by FARA.
Craig’s carefully parsed YouTube statement raises a number of questions, which may play a factor in the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia’s requests for document discovery as part of the case against the long time Clinton associate.
Though he specifically stated “I never discussed the findings of our report with any U.S. officials. I certainly did not lobby any U.S officials on behalf of Ukraine,” Craig did not offer a comment on whether he had any communication during his preparation of the report with then-Secretary of State Clinton about the State Department’s views on the prosecution and imprisonment of former Ukranian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, or of her rival, the Russian-aligned then-President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, who came to power in 2010 and whose Ministry of Justice requested the report on the Tymoshenko prosecution prepared by Craig.
Given the close and long term relationship between Craig and the Clintons, Craig’s almost certain knowledge that Pinchuk was a significant donor to the Clinton Foundation, and his belief that Pinchuk had helped fund the report for the Ukranian Ministry of Justice on which he was working, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia may seek to obtain any and all communications between Craig and Secretary of State Clinton during 2012 and 2013 period when he was working on and discussing the Ukraine report.
Tymoshenko was convicted by a Ukranian court of exceeding her powers while serving as prime minister and was imprisoned on October 11, 2011. She was released from prison in February 2014 on an overwhelming vote by the Ukranian Parliament in the immediate aftermath of the Ukranian Revolution of that year. Days later, President Viktor Yanukovych was removed from power and fled to Russia.