Greg Craig who is a Former Obama White House Counsel and Clinton-linked attorney may soon be charged by the Justice Department for engaging in illegal unregistered overseas lobbying.
The case was initially probed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller — a development that would make him the first Democrat to face prosecution amid the Russia investigation.
The case out forth centers on lobbying work Greg Craig performed in 2012 for Viktor Yanukovych – the Russian-backed president of Ukraine – while Craig was a partner at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
It’s reported that Craig allegedly never registered as a foreign agent under a U.S. law known as the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, which clearly states that it requires lobbyists to declare publicly if they represent foreign leaders, governments or their political parties for that matter.
However, FARA violations were rarely prosecuted until Robert Mueller went after Paul Manafort for his lobbying work in Ukraine. Manafort, who was the one who connected Craig with Yanukovych, has been convicted on numerous bank and tax fraud charges, and was also separately accused of FARA violations. He was sentenced earlier this month to approximately seven years in prison.
Greg Craig left the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom last year as his work with Paul Manafort became public. In January, Skadden agreed to cooperate with the Department of Justice’ registration requirements and paid $4.6 million in a settlement to avoid criminal prosecution. “We have learned much from this incident and are taking steps to prevent anything similar from happening again,” the firm said in a statement at the time.
But as with Paul Manafort’s case, there is no indication that Craig improperly colluded with a foreign government while he was serving in any official capacity. Craig worked as White House Counsel from 2009 to 2010 and previously worked in the Clinton administration on impeachment matters.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has referred the Craig case to New York federal prosecutors, his reasoning is that it falls outside his mandate of determining whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia.
The New York Times reports that New York prosecutors then forwarded the case to the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. in January for a now-imminent final decision on filing charges.
New York prosecutors are also investigating similar charges regarding Clinton-connected Tony Podesta. In September, Paul Manafort admitted to directing two firms — Mercury Public Affairs and the Podesta Group — to lobby in the United States on behalf of a Ukrainian political party and Ukraine’s government, then led by Yanukovych, Manafort’s longtime political patron.
Mercury Public Affairs and Tony Podesta were paid a combined $2 million on the project, then registered under a less stringent lobbying law that doesn’t require as much public disclosure as FARA.
Both of those firms said they had registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, rather than FARA, on the advice of lawyers at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Greg Craig’s former firm. But in court papers, Robert Mueller’s prosecutors said the firms were well aware they were working on Ukraine’s behalf.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the Podesta probe apparently has not been moved to the DOJ and that Manhattan prosecutors remain in control of the investigation. However, in January federal prosecutors began systematically interviewing witnesses and contacting lawyers to schedule additional questioning related to the Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs.
Tony Podesta, a longtime Democratic operative whose brother, John Podesta, ran Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign; Weber is a former Republican congressman from Minnesota. Neither has been charged with any crimes. Their firms have defended the decisions by saying they relied on the advice of outside attorneys.
Michael McKeon who is Mercury’s spokesman said the firm has: “always welcomed any inquiry since we acted appropriately at every step of the process, including hiring a top lawyer in Washington and following his advice. We’ll continue to cooperate as we have previously.”
Foreign lobbying work was the main focus in Robert Mueller’s case against Paul Manafort and his longtime associate Rick Gates, two high-profile Trump campaign officials who pleaded guilty earlier this year and have been interviewed very extensively by prosecutors.
Gates admitted in his plea deal that he lied to Mercury’s attorneys about the project. The Podesta Group has claimed it was misled by the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, citing a written certification from the nonprofit saying it wasn’t directed or controlled by the Ukrainian Party of Regions, one of Manafort’s clients.
Many are wondering why Clinton backers think they above the law and that their explanations amount to a weak effort to obtain plausible deniability.
Even president Trump questioned everything Tweeting in 2017: “Was the brother of John Podesta paid big money to get the sanctions on Russia lifted?” “Did Hillary know?”
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