Former White House counsel Greg Craig is bracing for an indictment on lobbying charges soon in connection with a case referred by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office.
In statements to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, Craig’s lawyers said they expect federal prosecutors in Washington, DC to charge their client with making false statements related to his work on a report commissioned by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. In anticipation of the move, Craig’s attorneys blasted the “misguided abuse of prosecutorial discretion” and say he was under no obligation to register as a foreign agent for his work on a 2012 report for powerhouse law firm Skadden Arps.
The report featured prominently in the special counsel’s Washington, DC case against Manafort. Prosecutors alleged that the report, paid for by the government of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, was one part of a broad lobbying effort waged by Manafort on behalf of his clients in Kiev. The report examined Yanukovych’s prosecution of his former rival Yulia Tymoshenko and, in the eyes of the special counsel’s office, whitewashed the move as in keeping with norms of the rule of law.
Craig spearheaded the writing of the report and, in the opinion of the Justice Department, ventured from analyst to lobbyist when he reached out to The New York Times to ask if a reporter would take a call from a lobbyist on the case and delivered a copy of the report to the Times. In a civil settlement with Skadden, Justice Department officials wrote that Craig’s outreach was “consistent with Ukraine’s media strategy” and that he “had an obligation to register with the Department of Justice” under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
But sources close to Craig have pushed back aggressively on that characterization to the Journal and CNN. They argue that Craig never billed his clients for the time he spent talking to the Times and that the discussions were only an attempt to correct misinformation circulating about the report and not an extension of the Ukrainian government’s media strategy.
Prosecutors took issue with that explanation in their January 2019 settlement with Skadden. They wrote that Craig’s “false and misleading statements” included his claim that he spoke to reporters “only in response to requests from the media and spoke to the media to correct misinformation about the report that the media was already reporting.”
The Journal reported that the National Security Division has taken up the Craig case after prosecutors in New York, who originally investigated the case after it was referred by the special counsel’s office, declined to press charges.
Craig resigned from Skadden in April 2018, shortly after Alexander Van Der Zwaan, a former Skadden lawyer who worked on the report, was sentenced for lying to the special counsel’s office about his interactions with Manafort’s associates. Skadden fired Van Der Zwaan in 2017.