Ex-Obama WH counsel charged with lying in a lobbying probe

Thursday, April 11, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig was indicted Thursday on charges of making false statements and concealing information in a federal foreign lobbying investigation that intersected with the Russia probe.

Craig, 74, was charged in a two-count indictment that accuses him of willfully concealing material facts from the Justice Department about work he performed for the Ukrainian government. The indictment, announced by the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, came a day after Craig’s lawyers said he expected to be charged in the probe spun off from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

In a statement, his attorneys, William Taylor and William Murphy, said, “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.”

The lawyers said the Justice Department’s national security division pushed to indict Craig despite federal prosecutors in New York declining to bring charges, an assertion that couldn’t immediately be verified. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment. Craig’s indictment is part of a Justice Department crackdown on unregistered foreign lobbying and consulting. Federal prosecutors in New York 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 conceal their lobbying work from the government. The scrutiny of Craig stems from an investigation of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his work on behalf of a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. The charges come about three months after Craig’s former law firm agreed to pay more than $4.6 million and publicly acknowledge that it failed to register with the government for its work for the Ukraine.

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.

Craig is a prominent Washington attorney and was the first White House counsel to former President Barack Obama. In private practice, his clients have included former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and James Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was charged in a leaks investigation.

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