Ex-White House counsel accused of lying about lobbying work

Greg Craig listens as President Barack Obama makes a surprise appearance during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington

"That is what this trial will be all about".

The civil settlement with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP laid much of the blame for the firm's conduct on Craig, who was a senior partner.

His lobbying was allegedly linked to ex-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort's political efforts in Ukraine.

While at Skadden, Mr. Craig was tapped to prepare a formal report justifying then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yankovich's prosecution of a political rival, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

The indictment made public Thursday says Craig did not want to register under FARA because doing so could keep him or others at his law firm from getting government positions and because the filing would require him to disclose the millions paid from a "private, wealthy Ukrainian".

"The only time we responded, was to correct misinformation", Craig wrote. But it was what came next that caused prosecutors to bring charges, according to the indictment.

Craig is charged with giving false information to the justice department officials who regulate work in the U.S. by lobbyists, lawyers and other representatives of foreigners under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (Fara).

Prosecutors said they believe he also tried to hide a public relations firm's involvement in the ordeal. Like Manafort, who also worked with Yanukovych, Craig did not register as a foreign agent for this work. A letter he sent FARA officials two days later contained similar claims.

The political consulting of that era is the origin of the legal troubles for Craig and Skadden: Manafort helped arrange for Ukraine's then-pro-Russian government to hire the law firm at the time the regime was Manafort's client.

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Craig's lawyers denied that he had lied about his activity.

Court documents show Craig "repeated certain of the false and misleading statements" during an October 2017 interview with special counsel Robert Mueller's office.

The investigation of Craig took an unusually circuitous route. The special counsel then referred the former White House aide's case to the Southern District of NY, before going back to federal prosecutors in D.C.

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".

In March, Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was sentenced to nearly four years in jail in the USA state of Virginia over bank and tax fraud related to his work in Ukraine. "WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL INDICTED in connection with MUELLER investigations!"

To so do, Manafort sought the services of Skadden and its well-connected attorneys.

A second attorney at the firm pleaded guilty a year ago to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his role in the Ukraine report, saying he gave an early copy to Manafort and deleted related emails.

The Skadden and Craig matters have prompted the Justice Department to escalate its pursuit of foreign influence operations.

According to the indictment, Mr Craig withheld information regarding his media contacts and made false statements in documents given to the attorney general with regards to USA foreign lobbying law.

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