Former Barack Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig has been indicted for lying to investigators over his lobbying work in Ukraine in partnership with former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Craig became chief White House counsel at the start of President Obama’s first term, but left in 2010 to work as a lobbyist. According to Thursday’s indictment, Craig made false statements to the Justice Department’s Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) unit, regarding lobbying work he did for the Ukrainian government against former PM Yulia Tymoshenko in 2012.
Craig was at one time reportedly investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ probe, before his case was passed on to the Southern District of New York and then prosecutors in Washington.
That leaves open the question why both Mueller and the SDNY opted not to charge Craig, especially considering Mueller went after Manafort for similar lobbying violations – rather than anything connected to the 2016 presidential campaign – while the SDNY charged him with mortgage fraud. Manafort is now serving more than seven years in prison resulting from two trials that came out of the Mueller probe. He has not yet been tried for the offenses alleged by the SDNY.
hrough the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Craig worked alongside Manafort in lobbying for Ukrainian politicians. The indictment alleges Craig worked to portray Tymoshenko’s arrest for corruption as fair and just and then lied about the nature of this work to avoid registering as an agent of a foreign government, something he allegedly believed would hamper his career in Washington.
Prior to his work for Kiev and the Obama White House, Craig served as special counsel to Bill Clinton in the 1990s, and directed the team defending Clinton against impeachment.
Mueller wrapped up his two-year, $25.2 million probe last month, having found no evidence of conspiracy or collusion between Trump and Russia during the 2016 election, according to the summary released by Attorney General William Barr.