Obama lawyer Gregory Craig on Mueller inquiry charges

WASHINGTON- JANUARY 21 U.S. President Barack Obama greets White House counsel Gregory Craig during an event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House

Former Obama White House Counsel Gregory Craig Indicted in Foreign Lobbying Probe Alex Wong Getty ImagesJOSHUA CAPLAN11 Apr 2019

Craig's lawyers announced Wednesday that they believed the charges were coming, and they argued that the case was a misuse of prosecutorial discretion.

Prosecutors say Mr. Craig failed to register as a lobbyist because he feared it would be revealed that a "private wealthy" Ukrainian paid $4 million for the supposedly independent report, thus damaging its credibility.

Thus, Craig is the first Democrat to to be charged as a result of the Mueller probe.

He allegedly made the statements to Justice Department officials who were evaluating whether he should have registered as a foreign agent and in an interview with Mueller's prosecutors. Mueller also brought FARA charges against former Manafort deputy Rick Gates as he sought to turn investigative targets into cooperators.

"I don't want to register as a foreign agent under FARA".

McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, told Dana Perino that the "clock was ticking" when it came to charges against Craig, especially after Mueller indicted Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, who worked with Craig.

Craig served as White House counsel during the first year of the Obama presidency.

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich hired Craig's firm to provide a report justifying his imprisonment of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a political rival.

In the US and European Union, the widespread view was that Tymoshenko prosecution was politically motivated. Craig - while on the payroll of the Yanukovych government - found that the Yanukovych government's prosecution of its opponent met global standards, in a report that was widely dismissed as a whitewash. The report was also presented to US government officials, raising questions if it constituted lobbying.

In 2013, the Justice Department sent Skadden a letter informing Mr. Craig that his work on the report required him to register as a foreign lobbyist.

He is accused of lying to the Justice Department about his work on a 2012 report.

Yanukovich was one of Manafort's main lobbying clients.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, a rarely enforced law that was enacted in 1938 to counter Nazi propaganda.

Craig also coordinated public relations work to boost the government's image.

Craig's lawyers castigated the government for bringing the charges and said their client had refused all requests to participate in Ukraine's media campaign to promote the Tymoshenko report. They acknowledged that Craig spoke to reporters about the report but denied it was part of a public relations campaign that would run afoul of the law. He received 30 days in prison and was deported to the United Kingdom once his sentence was complete. Federal prosecutors in NY have been investigating two prominent Washington lobbying firms in a similar probe, and Justice Department officials in Washington have been increasingly willing to prosecute people who they believe intentionally hide their lobbying work from the government.

The case is U.S. v. Craig, 19-cr-125, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington). It was then transferred back to prosecutors in Washington.

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