Greg Craig, the former White House counsel under President Barack Obama, was indicted Thursday for making false statements to investigators as a part of a case that arose from the work of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
A grand jury approved two counts of making false statements relating to Craig’s work for the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. When he was employed with the firm in 2012, it was contracted to draft a report on the trial of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. The administration of Ukraine was facing allegations that the prosecution had been driven by political, rather than legal, considerations.
Craig and the firm did not register as foreign agents to conduct this work, apparently believing it was unnecessary as long as it avoided doing direct public relations work on behalf of the Ukrainian government. The point of the report was to present an independent analysis of the Tymoshenko prosecution.
Failing to register as a foreign agent is a crime, but such charges had fallen off the radar under a lax enforcement regime until Mueller’s team made aggressive use of the statue, particularly in the prosecution of former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort. According to the Justice Department, Craig worked with Manafort to obtain the contract to create the Tymoshenko report.
Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Columbia aren’t charging Craig with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, but instead, they claim he intentionally misled investigators from the FARA unit while they were examining his work with Ukraine. In particular, they claim that he lied about his contacts with reporters and news outlets about the report, misrepresented the nature of his work, and failed to inform agents about the extent of his coordination with the public relations firm on the report.
Craig’s lawyers announced Wednesday that they believed the charges were coming, and they argued that the case was a misuse of prosecutorial discretion. They said that prosecutors from the Southern District of New York had already declined to bring the case.