The legal team for former Obama White House lawyer Greg Craig say that they expect Craig to be indicted in the near future on charges related to work that he performed in 2012 for the Russia-aligned government of Ukraine.
“Mr. Craig has refused to accept a plea deal, and the matter could be presented to a grand jury for indictment as soon as Thursday, people familiar with the matter say,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “The people familiar with the situation say they believe Mr. Craig will be charged with making false statements to the Justice Department unit that oversees the activities of foreign agents, though other charges are possible.”
The case against the 74-year-old Democrat — who has served in senior legal positions under two Democrat presidents — originated from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
“This case was thoroughly investigated by the SDNY and that office decided not to pursue charges against Mr. Craig,” Craig’s legal team said in a statement. “We expect an indictment by the DC US Attorney’s Office at the request of the National Security Division. 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.”
Then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych hired Craig and his law firm at the time — Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP — to review the corruption trial of political opponent Yulia Tymoshenko.
“Craig resigned from Skadden in April 2018 amid a building investigation into whether the firm’s lawyers failed to register as foreign lobbyists for their Ukraine engagement,” The Washington Post reported. “Prosecutors have been investigating whether Craig issued false statements to the Justice Department in 2013 as officials made inquiries to the firm about whether its work required public registration, people familiar with the case said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe the ongoing probe.”
The Post notes that human rights advocates claim that the report that Skadden produced, which Skadden claimed was an independent analysis, had been “engineered by Yanukovych’s government and whitewashed the jailing of his political opponent.”
The Post further notes that former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, who helped Yanukovych’s 2010 campaign, “eventually admitted that he and other lobbyists used the Skadden report as part of a broad effort to improve Yanukovych’s reputation in the West, which had suffered after the widely condemned jailing of Tymoshenko.”
The alleged false statement that prosecutors are focused on reportedly involves contact that he had with the media, specifically The New York Times, and whether Craig’s contact with the media would have required him to have registered as a foreign lobbyist.
Alex van der Zwaan, a former London-based attorney for Skadden, “reported to a low-security Federal Bureau of Prisons facility near Allenwood, Pennsylvania, on Monday to serve the 30-day sentence he received for lying to investigators in the course of Mueller’s investigation,” Politico reported.
Zwaan pled guilty to lying “to the FBI and lawyers for Mueller’s office during questioning about his involvement with a report Skadden prepared in 2012 at the request of the Ukrainian government.”