Indictment Against Obama-Era White House Counsel Expected
Attorneys for Greg Craig, a prominent Democratic lawyer and former White House counsel in the Obama administration, said Wednesday evening that they expect him to be indicted by federal prosecutors in a case that stems from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
An indictment against Craig connected to work he performed for Ukraine while he was a partner at the high-profile law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP has been expected for several weeks, and CNN reported in late March that prosecutors were close to bringing a case over what they allege were false statements made by Craig.
The case is significant not only because of Craig’s reputation as a legal heavyweight but also because it has its origins in the Justice Department’s newfound taste for prosecutions connected to a once-obscure law, the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which is used to pursue cases of individuals acting as unregistered foreign agents. It is also notable because while most of the cases charged as a result of Mueller’s investigation concerned Republicans connected to President Donald Trump, Craig is a Democrat.
An indictment against him could come as soon as Thursday, according to people familiar with the matter. CNN has reported that the statute of limitations for the matter for which Craig was originally investigated — having failed to register as a foreign agent — has expired and that prosecutors have instead been weighing bringing a false statement charge against him.
Though an initial inquiry into Craig and Skadden was opened by Mueller, Craig’s case was later referred to federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and eventually to prosecutors in the US Attorney’s office for the District of Columbia. It is prosecutors from that office, “at the request of” the Justice Department’s national security division, who are expected to charge Craig, his lawyers said.
“This case was thoroughly investigated by the SDNY and that office decided not to pursue charges against Mr. Craig,” his attorneys said Wednesday. “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.”
After examining Craig’s case, federal prosecutors in New York concluded they had insufficient evidence to bring charges against him, CNN has reported.
Craig initially came into the crosshairs of federal prosecutors in mid-2017. He and Skadden had performed work beginning in 2012 for Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice. It was a client relationship the Justice Department has said was forged with the assistance of Paul Manafort, who later became Trump’s campaign chairman.
The issue that has been under examination has to do with contact Craig made in late 2012 with several newspaper reporters at the time of the public release of a report he had written for Skadden’s client, the Ukranian Ministry of Justice, on the trial of Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister of Ukraine.
The inquiry from prosecutors has concerned whether Craig had contacted reporters on behalf of Ukraine to distribute the report to them and whether he had subsequently provided false information to the Justice Department’s Foreign Agents Registration Act unit when he met with representatives from the unit in October 2013.
In January, the Justice Department’s national security division settled with Skadden in an agreement that forced the firm to turn over $4.6 million it had earned for its 2012 work for Ukraine and to retroactively register as a foreign agent. The language of the settlement appeared to leave Craig exposed to potential criminal charges for what the document describes as his repeated “false and misleading” statements to Justice Department officials.
On Wednesday, his attorneys disputed that assessment, saying: “He did not lie to his former firm or the government about these conversations.”
Craig’s attorneys met with Justice Department prosecutors in recent days in a bid to avoid charges against him, a person familiar with the matter said.